With the Super Bowl just days away, the media is obsessing over Marshawn Lynch, the Seattle Seahawks running back who has accrued over $100,000 in fines by the NFL for his unwillingness to talk to the media. From an economic standpoint, it may be hard for some to empathize with a man working under a $30 million contract, especially considering that his salary depends on the footage-fueled idol-worship of everyday Americans. Empathy, however, should come from the fact that the average career for an NFL running back is 2.57 years, their median salary is around $600,000 (and is taxed at 35%), and 76 of 79 deceased NFL retirees whose brains were recently examined showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The fines are especially insidious considering the NFL, a non-profit organization, made over $10 billion last year.
The man who interests me more than anyone this week, however, is Seattle head coach Pete Carroll, who said about Lynch: “[L]et’s not miss that he is a very unique individual… he has a way that we have embraced… we understand Marshawn and we support him every way that we can.” Carroll is known for playing music during practice, organizing meditation sessions for his players, and allowing them a degree of freedom that is rare in a league known for its infantilizing authority over its players, typified by bed checks. The college football national championship this year also featured a team, Oregon, whose coaches do not yell at their players.
As somebody who quit playing organized sports in high school due to the verbal abuse of my coaches, it’s nice to see new-age, evidence-based parenting techniques seeping into one of the most testosterone fueled environments in the world.