RB Lynch still getting negative press (Photo Source)
In just over a month's time, Buffalo Bills RB Marshawn Lynch has gone from league up-and-comer to league poster boy; his admission of guilt to a hit-and-run accident which left a Toronto native injured has been five weeks of negative publicity for the second-year runner and his team.
Despite the fact that the legal process eventually led to a punishment for Lynch (a very modest fine and the revoking of his license), the runner is still being pounded on not only for his actions, but for the length of time it took to resolve the case. I'm here to tell you that the latter needs to stop, mostly because it's ludicrously unfair to Lynch and his attorney, Michael Caffery.
Leading the offensive against Lynch's reputation is none other than Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk - a blog that has made its name promoting controversial issues. The website is famous for its "All-Turd Team", a roster consisting of the league's biggest legal offenders in any given season. I'm not here to debate whether or not Lynch should have been on that roster, because I'm of the mind that he clearly qualifies; what bugs me is Florio's opinion on the situation:
Marshawn Lynch, RB, Bills: His hit-and-run incident followed by several weeks of refusing to own up to it could win him an automatic berth in the All-Turd Hall of Fame.
There are two things that are incredibly, unbelievably wrong with Florio's assessment that could lead to a misinterpretation of the Lynch situation. First and foremost, Lynch's "refusal to own up to it" was a legal decision protected by the Fifth Amendement of the Constitution - the right against self-incrimination. More importantly, Florio seems to be translating "refusal to own up to it" as "denial" - something Lynch clearly never did. He kept his mouth shut - again, completely legal, and never attempting to deny the accusations - and let the legal process play out. Lynch shouldn't take flack for keeping his mouth shut, because he had every right to do so. Once the investigations closed and the deal was in place, Lynch immediately released his statement admitting guilt. That's the best possible situation that could have occurred once the issue began to drag out.
Secondly - let's not mistake Lynch's legal issues as something that is damaging to the league's reputation. There was never any evidence presented that Lynch was intoxicated, and it's a bit cynical to assume that - especially since Lynch was spotted drinking water at bars that evening. Outside of Buffalo and PFT, Lynch's story has been virtually a non-factor. Meanwhile, Bears RB Cedric Benson is busted twice on alcohol-related charges, released by his team, and also lives with the fact that he's a Top-5 bust. That's All-Turd Hall of Fame. But Lynch gets ragged on because of an unfair public perception pushed forward by people like Mike Florio.
It's time to let go. Lynch received a very minor punishment, has issued a public apology, and it's assumed he'll receive more light punishment from the team and perhaps the league (that's still to be decided). Please don't misunderstand me, either - I'm not defending Lynch's actions. He made a horrible error, and deserves the punishment he's gotten. But it was an accident. He deserves the negative press for that accident. Everything after was done by the letter of the law. The kid's made his mistake; it's time to forgive him, move on, and hope he keeps his nose clean from this point forward.