Marshawn Lynch was “here so I won’t get fined.”
We learned that 29 times over four minutes and 51 seconds on Tuesday.
Super Bowl 49’s Media Day/circus/theater of the absurd at the US Airways Center also had clowns. It had Spanish- speaking puppets screaming “Go Tom!” — or was it “Vamos Tomas!”? —to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. It had a sizable male interviewer wearing nothing but a barrel and a cowboy hat, Richard Sherman salsa dancing — and Cliff Avril summing it up perfectly.
“This is nuts,” the Seahawks defensive end said.
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And that was just at the start.
People paid $32 per ticket — $22 with a military discount. Many did so to sit in the arena’s upper deck. To observe interviews, to which they could listen on headphones they got on the way in.
Many got their tickets for free. How much would those folks have paid?
“To watch people talk?” said Michael Wiler, who is from Silverdale but is going to school in the Phoenix area.
So Lynch’s vocal performance, his entering like Ali on the way into the ring in Zaire to fight Foreman, meandering through the massive throng on the floor of the arena with handlers all around him clearing a path while fans chanted “SEA! HAWKS!” and so-called “journalists” plowed through each other like roller derby to get pictures and videos — even that wasn’t nearly the highest absurdity of Seattle’s hour and 15 minutes.
As always, Media Day was light on the nuts and bolts of Sunday’s huge game.
It was crushingly heavy on fluff.
A woman tried to hit Sherman with the idea that Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are not as buddy-buddy as the Seahawks cornerback said Sunday.
Sherman cited photos of Goodell at Kraft’s house before this month’s Indianapolis-at-New England AFC title game. He used that evidence to opine that no league punishment would come out of an investigation of the Patriots’ deflated footballs in that game.
She asked him, “Did you do your research?”
“It’s not difficult to do your research,” Sherman fired back. “I obviously did. In which way was I incorrect?”
The woman went on with her objection to Sherman’s view.
The cornerback found that objection unfounded.
“It’s hard to talk to someone who has no information. It’s difficult. It’s difficult. I wish this would be a better debate,” Sherman said, pantomiming give and take between him and her with his hands. “But it’s not. The levels aren’t there for us.”
He had one hand flat far above his other one.
The fans watching and hearing from the stands this one-sided argument on the arena’s big-screen video board roared and whistled.
That made Sherman’s response to another question even more telling.
“Name the most Stanford thing about me?” Sherman parroted back the question.
Two podiums to the right of the Lynch extravaganza, past where Lynch flashed two fingers in a “Peace” sign to teammate and center Max Unger as they spoke, Michael Bennett continued his tour de force this month as a national breakout star.
Or have you already forgotten the cop’s bicycle the ultra-glib defensive end commandeered on the CenturyLink Field turf immediately after Seattle’s miraculous rally past Green Bay in the NFC title game a week and a half ago?
There’s a levity to Bennett that was refreshing amid Tuesday’s chaos. He again wore the favorite cowboy hat of his great friend and longtime mentor Mark Alexander, who died two weeks ago back in his hometown of Houston from cancer. Bennett received the white hat from Alexander’s widow when he flew home for the funeral last week. He’s been wearing it since, “for good luck,” he’s said.
Bennett had a, um, unique theory why the media and Lynch don’t get along.
“It’s like when you are dating a woman,” Bennett said. “You can’t be too aggressive when you are trying to get to ‘first base.’
“I think sometimes you guys are too aggressive, so you never get (there).”
Then: “Hey Mike, why doesn’t anyone like the Seahawks outside the Pacific Northwest?”
“People hate us because when you talk a lot of smack people usually hate you,” Bennett said.
“Talk a lot of smack and back it up, people hate you more.”
One of the keys to Sunday’s game is New England’s offensive linemen getting off the ball quickly enough to reach Bennett before he’s already in the Patriots’ backfield. Bennett has been a disruption to almost every team he’s faced this season by anticipating snap counts and using his quickness to ruin running plays and quarterbacks’ days both as a regular end and then tackle inside when Seattle goes to five defensive-back “nickel” packages on passing downs.
Why does Bennett think he is quicker than most offensive linemen?
“Some of the linemen are overweight and I’m in shape,” he said. “I do Total Gym.”
But wait, isn’t he stressed at having to face six-time Super Bowl QB Brady, All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots’ offense on Sunday?
“I’m never stressed, man,” Bennett said. “I wake up every day and look in the mirror and say ‘Damn, I look good.’ ”
Some (apparently) Florida reporters (apparently from Florida) wanted to talk about how the formerly undrafted Bennett — one of the whopping 22 undrafted Seahawks on the 53-man roster for this Super Bowl — spent his first four NFL seasons (2009-12) playing for mostly woeful Tampa Bay.
How thankful is he that he broke in with for the Buccaneers?
“I’m thankful I’m not with the Bucs,” Bennett said.
Bennett didn’t mind the frenzy. He said he loved the fans and their interest, how it drives and is in fact needed for the NFL’s multibillion-dollar annual machine.
“Playing in front of nobody would feel like playing in the CFL,” Bennett said of the Canadian Football League, “and that wouldn’t be fun.”
The fun and bizarre weren’t limited to the Seahawks, either.
The Patriots’ first session included famously dour coach Bill Belichick actually smiling. And laughing. At the same time.
At one point the daughter of Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo, Chya, snuck under the mass of reporters in front of podium 3 and asked Belichick for his favorite stuffed animal.
“I like a little puppet that you can kind of put your fingers in. It’s a little monkey. And then he can talk,” Belichick said with a disarmingly goofy smile and chuckle. “What’s yours?”
There weren’t any deflated balls around, either.
“It’s fun, I guess, to see everybody get in here and see how big a business the NFL is,” Bennett said. “You just enjoy the theatrics — people crazy, people asking crazy questions that don’t pertain to football. But it’s all fun and games.”