Would media vote Marshawn Lynch Super Bowl MVP?
The running back has refused to answer reporters’ questions this week, leading some to wonder if that could affect his chances to win the award should the Seahawks win Sunday.
Seattle Times staff reporter
PHOENIX — As Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch continued to dodge questions here this week, doing so with more vehemence each day, another one arose.
Specifically, would chastened media members who vote for Super Bowl MVP honors take it out on Lynch if he were to emerge as a legitimate candidate Sunday?
Being named Super Bowl MVP comes with some traditional requirements — namely, attending a news conference Monday morning and smiling happily as you are presented a truck and trip to Disney World.
As he did with nearly every question Thursday, Lynch refused to answer when asked if he would attend that news conference if named MVP.
So it would make sense that some wonder if those who vote might consider the potential awkwardness of Lynch either not appearing, or acting in the same manner as he did all week, as they cast their ballots.
I can, at least, answer for one voter — myself.
I was asked a few days ago to be one of 16 media members who will vote for the award Sunday.
And if Lynch deserves my vote, then he’ll get it, even though I’ve had no more luck getting a word out of him since I moved to covering the Seahawks in 2013 than just about anyone else outside of Conan O’Brien or Flo from Progressive.
At this point, it might be helpful to break down how the voting works.
There are 20 votes overall.
Of those, 16 come from the media. Of those 16, six come from media members who cover the participating teams (this year, three from Seattle and three from New England). The rest are split among national media members, including one given to a representative of each organization broadcasting the game on TV or radio.
The four others come from an online fan vote through NFL.com. Specifically, 2.5 votes go to the leading vote-getter, with one vote going to the No. 2 vote-getter and 0.5 to the third vote-getter.
So this doesn’t rest solely on the media (and for what it’s worth, individual votes are not revealed).
Some with long memories already have cited Super Bowl VI as a possible precedent. Dallas beat Miami 24-3 that year with running back Duane Thomas the offensive standout, gaining 95 yards.
Thomas, though, was a mercurial figure who that year not only didn’t talk to the media but also spent most of the season not speaking to teammates or coaches after becoming frustrated with his contract.
At Super Bowl Media Day, Thomas famously didn’t answer questions, legend having it that he spoke only to ask what time it was.
And when it came time to name the MVP, the award went to quarterback Roger Staubach, who threw for two touchdowns but just 119 yards overall. Even Staubach has been quoted as saying Thomas likely would have received the award had he talked to the media.
The voting, though, was different then, as I was reminded this week by longtime sportswriter Jerry Izenberg, who has covered every Super Bowl and is author of a new book on former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle titled “Rozelle: A Biography.’’
The award then was handled by Sport Magazine. Izenberg said he’s heard often that Thomas got the votes of the media but that an editor at Sport — indeed worried that Thomas wouldn’t show at a dinner where the trophy and a car were awarded — simply overruled it and decided Staubach was the winner.
Izenberg cites that example as evidence that reporters will vote their consciences.
“If he’s the legitimate guy they will vote for him,’’ Izenberg said, adding he thinks it’s a scenario that could happen. “If they win, he’s going to be the reason.’’
Others have cited the baseball examples of Steve Carlton and Eddie Murray, who each had prickly (or non-existent) relationships with the media but were elected to the Hall of Fame on the first ballot.
And I’m not willing to entertain the idea that the league would influence the vote.
The NFL, of course, has been at odds with Lynch on several fronts of late, including his media availability. But the NFL apparently is satisfied with what he did here — there is no indication he will be fined for that. And its issue with the hat he wore is really a larger battle it has fought with other players and is hardly aimed at Lynch specifically.
And who knows? As one writer friend of mine suggested, the media who vote might be even more compelled to cast their ballots for Lynch because they’d be eager to see what would happen.
Maybe, he said, that would make Lynch finally come talk to us.
And for that, I think, everyone would truly be thankful.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699