What Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman Teach Us About Respectability & Black Masculinity

TED S. WARREN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

TED S. WARREN/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Like 114.5 million other folk, I was watching the Super Bowl on Sunday night, the most watched show in U.S. TV history (shouts out to Missy Elliott’s halftime performance, yes gawd!).  As a Carolina Panther fan I was not terribly invested in the outcome, but I was low key rooting for the Seahawks 1) because I regularly root for the underdog and 2) I live for the badassery of Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch.  The badassery I speak of is not limited to their on the field athletic prowess (Sherman is a cornerback who attended Stanford, and Lynch is a running back who went to UC-Berkeley), but rather their off the field badassness.  Both men are 20-something athletes whose unapologetic performances of black masculinity and resistance have left mainstream media perplexed and exasperated.  Both men’s gender presentations fuel the stereotypic imaginations of folk who find black men intimidating and terrifying, while wielding enough charm and cockiness to make them fascinating and mysterious.  With dark-skin, tattoos, and dreadlocks, both men simultaneously trouble race and gender politics by participating in a system that profits from them (and their bodies), while profiting them (and making them millionaires).  They are assumed to be pawns but have proven to be more clever than onlookers originally thought.  Both men have successfully flipped the script on notions of one-dimensional black masculinity and what respectability, in the context of black masculinity, looks like.

Their passion for the game of football and their confidence in their abilities make them fun to watch and even more endearing to listen to, but class standing aside, outside of the context of professional sports, they are read like any other black man without a fresh fade, collar shirt, and propensity to codeswitch.  Sherman and Lynch represent a particular type of black maleness and masculinity that competes with the safety of pretty boy intellectuals whose masculinity is tempered by their demeanor.  White folk don’t know if they should find them endearing or threatening.

Last year the internets went amuck when Richard Sherman got “too hype” in a postgame interview, wherein he made a game changing play that took his team to the Super Bowl.  His emotional response/rant, targeted at his nemesis Michael Crabtree, was misread as misplaced aggression and anger.  Reactions to his outburst ranged from applause and appreciation to fear and racism.  He was called a thug, undoubtedly for how he looked, how he embodied black masculinity in the presence of a white woman, and the way he spoke with conviction at the highest tenor of his voice.

And this year, the memes keep coming around Marshawn Lynch’s refusal to engage reporters.  Unlike Sherman whose emotional outburst led to mischaracterization, Lynch’s approach of not answering questions has led to him being labeled antisocial, rebellious and reckless (he has been charged $100,000 in fines for his media silence, and faced up to $500,000 in fines if he didn’t at least make himself available for media  leading up to the Super Bowl).

Both men have been spotlighted for what is read on their bodies as deviance (or defiance) and both have taught us a thing or two about respectability and black masculinity.  For Sherman, his performance of black masculinity initially played into the public fascination and fear of black masculinity.  His emotional outburst broke the fourth wall to expose a gritty, emotional side of him that in many ways had been reserved and tempered for media.  He became the black man you must hide yo wife and kids from.  His in-the-moment expression of passion required that he remind folk that he graduated from Stanford, that black men are fully capable of being educated AND a lil’ ratchet, and that black men are nuanced, multidimensional individuals.  For Lynch, his performance of black masculinity successfully bucked a system intended to infantilize him by refusing to play by their rules.  His clever disengagement pushes folk to re-imagine what his intentions are.  The intentionality of his silence, the consistence of his stubbornness, his refusal to “give in” and his “unbossed and unbought” attitude force onlookers to re-think what is going on (is he getting played, or is he playing them?).  By being un-invested in what they think or believe about him, saying as much in an interview, “I care about my family, not you,” he further mystifies masculinity.

My take is that respectability and black masculinity are often situated in opposition of each other.  Respectability seeks black men who are mild mannered, well dressed, and obedient (which is read as effeminate) while hegemonic masculinity requires resistance, a demonstration of dominance, and tendencies towards violence.

The NFL is unique in its glamorization and acceptance of hypermasculinity and aggression.  In a game that is all about taking and getting hits, it epitomizes intimidation and glorifies thuggery on the field but expects, if not requires, a turn around when representing the league off the field.  They want you to be a “beast” (Lynch’s nick name is Beast Mode) when you play, but a “choir boy” in the press room.  It is irresponsible and unrealistic to think that despite the fluidity of gender performance, that you can socialize men to be antagonistic and aggressive for their job, but then expect them to effortlessly shift to being cooperative and submissive for that same job.  Unfortunately, as evidenced by the legalities facing NFL players for their aggression/s off the field, hypermasculinity cannot be neatly contained on a football field, especially in a culture that values masculinity above any representation of femininity (shout out to the Always commercial “Like A Girl” that aired during the Super Bowl).

But this objectification and manipulation of black athletes is not new.  In 2005, the NBA implemented a dress code “to distance the league from its then ‘thuggish’ (and we all know what that really means) image in the mainstream.  The rule made it mandatory for the players to wear a jacket and tie before games, after games, during interviews, on the bench while injured, and in attendance at league charity events.”  The dress code required ball players to only “look” like ball players on the court, and to otherwise promote a more “respectable” aesthetic when representing the organization.

It is problematic to market black male athletes as hypermasculine and profit from their performance but then attempt to sanitize them off the field and place lesser value on their everyday masculinity and cool pose/s.  This is true in what is communicated verbally and nonverbally, by what they say (or don’t say), what they wear, and how they act.

As a communication studies professor I have had my fair share of “what now” moments listening to post-game interviews with microphones thrown in the faces of black men who are expected to understand interview etiquette without proper training.  My frustrations are not in allegiance to black respectability politics, however.  I am oftentimes perplexed that black athletes are not taught how to handle the media and/or field questions as part of their preparation for self presentation.  If their job is to “represent” a particular brand on and off the field in exclusively expressed ways, they won’t necessarily know how to do that by instinct.  Because of the embedded scrutiny of blackness in the public eye (and how it is perceived through slang, ebonics, dialect and appearance) black folk in general (think of every street interview of a random black person that is used and edited for maximum stereotypical effect on the news—remember Sweet Brown?) and young black males in particular, are pigeon-holed as ignorant, inarticulate, unsophisticated broods whose only contribution to society is athletic prowess.  For those of us who know, love, and talk to Marshawns and Richards in our everyday lives, we know that is not true, but we also know perception, seeped in anti-blackness, oftentimes dictates what people think is possible.  The unfortunate truth is that black folk are judged in particular ways before we speak and in the case of Lynch for refusing to speak at all, so we have to be strategic and mindful about our representations.

lynch2

Respectable black masculinity does not exist in a vacuum.  It is not a pre-packaged version of feel-good masculinity that represents the kind of black man that makes you comfortable.  Black masculinity is messy.  It’s an amalgamation of masculinities and performances that range from hypermasculine to homophobic.  It is trans* and queer inclusive, dapper, daunting, cool, unassuming, hip hop, stoic, vulnerable, r&b, bluesy, rebellious, young, old, somewhere-in-between, sexy, country, aggressive, quiet, respectable and beautiful.  It’s all of those things at once.  It’s only some of those things some of the time.  It’s complicated.  Black masculinity and respectability are not synonymous, nor do we need/want them to be.

I find Lynch’s lack of engagement wickedly brilliant.  Jenée Desmond-Harris frames Lynch’s “selective silence” as a way for him to resist the system and claim ownership of himself.  His refusal to “perform” for white folks entertainment outside the boundaries of his own comfort is his way of achieving/enacting his agency, and refusing to be controlled.  It is a way of demanding respect and exerting masculinity.  By saying, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” he concedes that they (the powers that be) can force him to show up, but they can’t force him to engage.  (Hell, I’m thinking about putting that quote on a t-shirt and wearing it to all of my faculty meetings).

Lynch’s strategic silence speaks volumes and reminds us that the performance of cool masculinity and hypermasculinity threatens respectability, but respectability and respect in general should not be restricted to those of us who look or speak the part.

  1. Great article and I will definitely be reposting on my blog. For all the complaining people have done over the years about our athletes just toting the company line in order to get endorsements and television time (ex. Michael Strahan), it is so refreshing to see these brothers buck the system and still get paid in the process.

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  3. It seems that all the money they pay in fines would be better donated to a good cause then back to the NFL, so knowing this why do they keep getting theses fines. Seems stupid to me, they need to shut up or talk, put please put your millions into a good cause aka youth sports.

  4. A TOO THE MEN!!!!!!!! This article is so well written I’ll be using it to teach my young puerile about respectability and TRUE masculinity. You are spot on dear one…….You made me want to go to school again just reading this. Be blessed indeed.

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  6. So, what would you suggest to an average black male who is fired from his job because he refused to do something he was contractually obligated to do? How is it helping to “teach” children and young adults that they do not have to respect others (including your boss/company) and their obligations because they are “exemplifying masculinity.” And I find your comment about speaking to the press for “white folks entertainment” especially disturbing. I’m sure that people of all colors, ages, and genders are eager to watch their “heroes” talk about the game and personal feelings on the experience. Lynch’s lack of respect for his job (all of it, not just on the field) is not only teaching an unrealistic (and detrimental) lesson, but disappointing his fans (not the “white” media, who more than likely loved the extra controversy because that equals ratings and more money). In your attempts to celebrate his choice to ignore the rules and regulations of his job and through the blatant use of “us versus them” language, you have succeeded to perpetuate the divide that so many people are trying to heal. I wish that everyone could get to a place where character is noticed before color or gender.

    • She is not perpetuating the divide but framing an already existing divide in the context of a system so that others might understand that one, there is in fact a divide and an unrealistic system in place, and two, what this divide means/represents to those players experiencing it.

      This divide of primal hypermasculinity and “civilized” behavior can also be seen (IMO) in military personnel, and inmates both of which are expected to reintegrate into society seamlessly. People have been trying to call to attention the absurdity of this model for. . .decades?

      Instead of casting disdain solely on the shoulders of the individuals who are part of the system, maybe you should look at the system itself and how it encourages this behavior. (not unlike every AI movie in existence).

    • Again. Proving the point of the article. You get paid to play football and you also have to perform for the press. Are you denying that white media doesn’t routinely set up black athletes to look stereotypically foolish in order to confirm the racist sentiments of mainstream America? That is what lynch is resisting as he continues to do his job as a football player very well. It’s not about “exemplifying masculinity” but complicating it. Especially black masculinity that has been constructed to reduce black men to thugs and criminals. That too is what this piece in its analysis of lynch is trying to point out. That we only act shocked at his behavior because we expect a performance from a black athlete that we are not entitled to.

    • Jessica, I am a black woman and I couldn’t AGREE with you more. Thankfully, this is the view of a ‘few’ people and does not represent an entire race or group of people. Apparently, these are two little boys who are rebellious and who lack the ability to give respect and thus they deserve none. They are poor role models and are sending a bad message, teaching kids to disrespect authority which you and I know will lead to problems down the road. Shameful.

    • Agreed, Jessica; their contracts (multimillion dollar contracts) are a package deal.Take it or walk away. The disrespect that these players show to the media is also seen by kids who need strong role models, not whiny adults having public tantrums because they don’t want to lose money by not showing up for press appearances.

    • Exactly. “Defiance” is not inherently maturity. Why celebrate “black masculinity” rather than a universal masculinity? Why celebrate an idea that black men “scare” people, rather than celebrate a masculinity that embraces virtue? Like courage under oppression or passion constrained, or self-control, or gentleness and power found together? Also, it is utter nonsense to say that “It is irresponsible and unrealistic to think that despite the fluidity of gender performance, that you can socialize men to be antagonistic and aggressive for their job, but then expect them to effortlessly shift to being cooperative and submissive for that same job.” If you think human men cannot handle this dichotomy, then you are actually calling them irrational beings, like animals, subject only to instinct and immediate passion. It is even more disgusting to make such a statement regarding black men.

      Articles like this are the other side of the same coin (BET, “thug” stereotypes, hip hop images of masculinity) of very poor teaching to young black American men.

    • Apples and oranges. Lynch is only “contractually obligated” to be available to the media. How and if he responds is up to him. So it is vastly different from an average black male refusing to do something he was obligated to do for his job. The average black male’s job doesn’t require them to speak with the media or be asked questions that in no way relate to that job.

    • Jessica I truly understand where you are coming from. That being said this does not work for everyone and every job. Sports is a different type of slavery! He was within the rules of his contract and he had the opportunity to wear his own brand of clothing which equates to more money for him. Pretty smart if you ask me.

    • @ Jessica, I agree with you. At first it sounded good just reading off the top of my head ,until i stop to think about it, and that’s what we should all learn to do, stop and think before we just agree on anything. Reading the Fine Print. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in the NFL or working for some large corperation, you got to read the FINE PRINT, I can only imagine, that sometimes we’re so happy to get the opportunity to do or get something that is life changing, that when they put that contract or agreement in front of us to sign, we forget about reading the FINE PRINT. The time for needing a lawyer is before doing something that will be against our rights before we sign that legal binding piece of paper that says we have to do what they say because it’s in your contract. Make sure whatever your terms are, is in that contract and agreed upon and then there’s nothing anyone can do or say about it. It has nothing to do with being BLACK or WHITE, MASCULINITY or RESPECTABILITY, it’s about the CONTRACT.

    • I believe your point is invalid because no one has a problem when Bill Belichick or Greg Popovich (two Caucasian coaches) pull the one-liner interviews, done time and time again before Lynch made it popular. Belichick just did it this season with the line “On to Cincinnati” Google it

    • I agreed with you. Rebellious style can make you different from others but in our eyes it is unrespectful charector.

    • I do agree with your idea that there can be an argument made about Lynch and his actions. I feel this article is about pointing out how these two men really represent masculinity in the face of an oppressing culture. They do the masculine thing at all time… and they don’t just portray the patriarchies view on masculinity, they portray their view. The important view. The view that says men can get excited. The view that says men can rebel. I think that is the important take away from this article.

  7. So is black masculinity only shown in dreads and tatoos and raising your voice or. Bucking authority?

    Well there are plenty white men that do the same thing. When I visit my brother in jail all I see is this over exertion of “black masculinity” in all races.

    We know how to rebel. I’m trying to get these kids to calm down and respect black and white teachers but we keep getting popular entertainers and ball players that make them believe it’s ok.

    I don’t vilify their acts but I don’t hail it as heroic either. There are many ways to display “blackness” and “masculinity”. I just wish we can get more people to promote things that can turn our inner city schools and neighborhoods around. Not all of them will have millions and be able to say what they want when they want.

    • @TMO it is heoric. They are setting a great example in what they are doing. Young kids just don’t understand the depth of Lynch’s actions and imitate only the surface. If they were taught the depth they would understand. Of course the kids you’re taking about however are in a school system that is not meant to really cultivate this kind of learning. In fact its quite the contrary. And the households they come from are not conducive to them regarding school with value. Don’t blame these athletes especially not these two who graduated from wonderful schools. Black men in this country are held to standards that often emasculate them and keep them from expressing themselves freely which the author is partly trying to say. For instance I’ve never seen an article or comment about how Riley Cooper wasn’t being a good example for kids. In fact we don’t hear about him anymore and his actions are actually destructive compared to Sherman’s and Lynch’s.

  8. *Excerpt: Black masculinity and respectability are not synonymous, nor do we need/want them to be.*

    *Excerpt: Sherman and Lynch represent a particular type of black maleness and masculinity that competes with the safety of pretty boy intellectuals whose masculinity is tempered by their demeanor.*

    I like these two guys. They’re cool entertainers. And while I appreciate how this post celebrates them, I don’t really get the point of showcasing them as representing ideal Black masculinity or contrasting them against the so-called lesser respectable Black men. I get the desire to protect them from the harsh media spotlight because they are harder edged Black men. But I am uncomfortable with the notion that rebelliousness is an admirable and authentic kind of Blackness while respectability is not.

    What is described here as respectability is what I consider social grace, economic privilege or just plain old survival. Why is that described as lesser than?

  9. Why does it have to be about being Black? I don’t see it. Do your job and what you’ve agreed to by contract. It’s that simple. You’ve been fined and fined again. What your saying is don’t follow through with your responsibilities and contractual obligation and you win? Not what I would want to teach a child of any color.

    • That’s how I see it too. It is so sad. They’ve been given an opportunity to enjoy and get paid well for doing something many only get to do as a hobby. Color has nothing to do with rebellion, aggression or disrespect. Since they are so ‘educated’, they should have read their contract in its entirety instead of having someone mull over it and them just sign. Apparently they did not read it for themselves or else they would have known ‘media interviews’ came with the package. Like you said, it is a contract and if you didn’t agree, why the hell did you sign! I’m so disappointed in these two and only wish they are shutdown or kicked out faster.

    • Well according to his “contractual obligation,” he followed through with his responsibilities. If they don’t like how he did it, then maybe their lawyers should have drawn up a better contract. He fulfilled his obligations. Point. Blank. Period.

  10. Marshawn is not heroic or masculine. He is a black football player employed by the nfl and anyone else they lease his services to. (Skittles, new era, nike etc). His defiant act is just an act. If it were not an act, he would express his problems with the media and the nfl and he would resign from the NFL. He is already a multimillionaire, why keep playing for racists?

    This rebel act is in fact beneficial for the media and large corporations. The more he acts out and bucks, the more consumers identify, watch and buy the products he promotes for them.

    Real Black men don’t complain about their jobs/bosses constantly, and do nothing about it. Real Black men take control of their lives and change their lives for the better by starting their own businesses.

    Making 5 million dollars per year, what businesses does Marshawn own?

    I don’t see strength when I see him, I see docility, laziness and indifference. This image of the fake black male rebel is the true problem. It’s sad that the author of this article doesn’t get that.

  11. i think everyone os missing the point of Lynch’s silence. Lynch isnt refusing to talk to reporters cuz the league tells him he has to….he’s refusing to talk to them cuz he’s had the media twist his words & edit his interview to make him look like he said something he didnt mean. its not about rebellion…its about protecting his image. & i COMPLETELY feel him on that. the NFL wants these athletes to be character role models & they’re goin to GREAT lengths to FORCE these ppl to be & thats not fair. not everyone is role model material. some ppl are good at ONE thing and thats that. soon these fines are gonna take away from the game & they’re just gonna have a buncha well dressed pansies on the field wit a buncha fans watchin boring games. Sherman isnt outspoken because most athletes in interviews arent….he’s outspoken cuz he’s passionate about his craft. why are we reading so deep into such simple actions? athletes are regular ppl too, you kno. they’re not philosophers and politicians and civil rights leaders….

  12. Very well written article, although I am disappointed in the view and message it is sending, not only to the public at large but more importantly, to our black boys. Aggression or rebellion is not a good look. Period. All this supposed act of black masculinity says is that ‘black men are disrespectful, rebellious and wild or uncontrollable. Bad boys who should be feared. The saying goes, you can take the kid out of the hood but cannot take the hood out of the kid and thus they are too risky. These players KNEW when they contracted, media interviews came with the package. Now all of a sudden they want to rebel? smh Yes, these two ‘black’, educated but rebellious young males may not have signed up to be role models, but face it, young black kids (and other kids) look up to them and what image are they displaying? You don’t have to conform; just break the rules and force them to deal with it. Who wants to be bothered with a grown man who acts like a spoil, disrespectful kid? Grow up.

  13. Both men with their fu– authority attitudes are sending a horrible example to kids. They havr no idea how theyre destroying their own people.Smdh

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  15. At least one of them SHOWED that he was upset at losing a Super Bowl!! Still got paid so it’s OK.

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  17. Exceptional perspective. I think his distrust of the media over the course of his career has caused him to unintentionally stumble upon a very effective (and disturbing to some) form of resistance. Football players wear helmets, stamped with a team logo on both sides. We don’t identify with their faces, like we do with the NBA stars. The NFL chooses the faces it wants to promote. This is why we see and are told that Payton Manning, Tom Brady, J.J. Watt, and Aaron Rodgers are “the faces of the league.” Pay attention to the rhetoric here… “faces of the league” of a league that does not show players faces. More than 2/3s (about 68%) of all NFL players are Black, but the “faces of the league” are all primarily white. What this equates to is individual marketing and promotion. National product endorsements, who gets them? Yup they do. Why? The NFL promotes them. Who does not get them? They don’t. Why? The NFL does not promote them, UNLESS there is some controversy surrounding that individual that requires the league’s attention (i.e. Ray Rice, Michael Vick). These black players created their own controversy and by committing crimes, forcing attention upon themselves and the NFL. But the NFL can blackball them, cast them as criminal and non-participants. Marshawn Lynch created his own controversy purely by being the star player on the NFL’s defending championship team. Because of this, the media and league cannot ignore him. But Marshawn can ignore the league and the media. He was at the center of all eyes and ears of the NFL and media on their grandest stage, and what did he say? Nothing. Brilliant. (even if it was unintentional)

  18. Reading comprehension is clearly not required before commenting.

    How did one interview, which led to Sherman to be being falsely labeled as a “thug,” become an indicator that he is doesn’t want to speak to the press? The issue is he is speaking to the press as his authentic self and that’s the problem some people have. Do half of you even watch pre game and post game interviews? There is such woeful ignorance on here that I am going to guess you don’t. Sherman has always been honest in his interviews; some call it cocky but let’s question why Brady doesn’t get painted with the same brush?

    And to the person who wrote “aggression or rebellion is not a good look. Period.” you must not be a student of history; the French Revolution, the American Revolution, the Haitian Revolution were ignited by aggression and rebellion. John Brown and the Maroons were rebellious.The Arab Spring and Tiananmen Square protests were acts of rebellion.

    Professional sports has become a clusterf— of reporters trying to get the best sound bite. There was a time when athletes were paid to play not promote themselves or their league, or have mics thrusted in front of them during the actual game, which is utterly ridiculous. (I hate getting a phone call at my desk when I’m knee deep in deadlines, so imagine how that feels to players on the field?) Our collective obsessions with all-access media has created Lynch. It’s obvious that he isn’t interested or invested in speaking to reporters. Whether it’s a shrewd act or not, that’s his prerogative

  19. I thought long and hard before deciding to reply to this piece, largely because there are many things therein I agree wholeheartedly with. There are, however, things I do not agree with and which seem to me to rest on underlying beliefs I don’t want any part of.

    Anybody who has ever been profiled by police/store owners/random people on the street knows that a fresh fade, collared shirt and propensity to code-switch does not ensure your safety, nor does it make you feel “safe” to some people.

    I don’t look the way I do for white folks (at least not primarily and not any more than I look like this for other people). My decision to wear my hair a certain way, my facility with words in multiple languages, dialects and codes, my intellectualism and my ability to wear the fuck out of a suit is not an act designed to save me or a mask I put on to conceal the real “authentically black” me.

    Some white folk still find Barack Obama threatening, not despite the suits, the cerebral intelligence and the rhetorical brilliance, but BECAUSE of them.

    If you do it right, wearing a suit is resistance. Speaking “their” language better than “them” and bending it to your will is resistance. Clawing your way to a position of leadership in a place that systematically denies your worth and right to exist is resistance.

    This is not to say that these ways of resisting are better than others. It is to say that we can all approach a similar task with different tactics and stratagems, different tools and skill-sets and from different reference points.

    It is to say that Marshawn & Sherman’s resistance is no more or less valuable than Melissa Harris-Perry’s, for example.

    It is to say that being Barack Obama – via Indonesia, Kenya, Kansas, Hawaii and the South Side of Chicago – sitting in the White House your kinfolk were forced to build by people who couldn’t imagine you’d ever exist…is resistance and not merely “the safety of pretty boy intellectuals whose masculinity is tempered by their demeanor”.

    And if you don’t think so, then quite frankly, fuck your movement.

    • Articulate and flamboyant Richard Sherman is next best thing to Muhammed Ali, but did Ted Warren and his admirers do ANY due diligence on Marshawn Lynch’s personal history? Why did Warren exclude Lynch’s guilty plea in a hit-and-run of a woman pedestrian in 2008? Is that act a brave stand against white hegemony? Then DUI, gun possession. That’s not badassery. That’s an ass acting badly.

  20. in depth piece, well thought out, and well-written…I am 62 years old…I am a Dartmouth graduate who is the only sibling in my family not to go to jail. Chicago was my hood…I have been called a thug many times in my life despite being a successful independent photojournalist…I do things my way….I have spent my life hearing folks ask me, “Why can’t you be like___ ?(fill in the blanks)…I am unapologetic for being a strong, black man who doesn’t define myself by the expectations of white people…I relate to both these brothers and take joy in the standing up to Roger Goodell who is nothing more than an empty suit who is robbing the NFL for $44 a year. Lynch gets fined $100,000 for not speaking to the media, but Goodell turned down NBC’s request for an interview on Super Bowl Sunday. NBC pays the NFL $642 million a year, but he won’t sit down for an interview…Keep it up young brothers…

  21. This is hilarious.. Very well written though.. I like how people use big words and complex phrases to sell a point.. But, I think these dudes are ridiculous.. I don’t think Sherman is a thug.. just an actor playing a part in LOB. A very good player and a passionate person, but no thug. He’s cocky and talks trash because football is mental.. a thug would not have made that face when Wilson threw the interception.. all the estrogen came pouring out.. Just let him play ball.
    I think Lynch has issues.. lol.. it’s the NFL.. National Football League… NATIONAL…. The only reason the NFL is national and can afford to pay him millions is because of the media.. He’s digging his own grave and trying be cool while doing it.. Nobody is out to get this dude.. if you screw up and get arrested, the media is going to be all over it.. A job with the NFL means you’re a role model.. If you can’t handle that, go work at Walmart for $10 an hour.. then you can refuse all the media you want and act however you want.. it’s almost embarrassing to see another person with potential and opportunity, act like a child and risk messing it up.. talking bout only his family loves him… What??? Since when is acting like a grown adult in front of a camera and answering questions, being submissive??.. It’s not about Black, white, yellow, red….. ignorance is colorblind.. This dude needs to learn how to grow up and appreciate the fact that he has the opportunity that millions of others wish for… Stop crying and “Eat fresh”.. lol

  22. I don’t think Marshawn is rebelling against the establishment. His once team-mate and fullback, Michael Robinson (who is black) had a youtube show called “The real Rob report” and a frequent theme of that show was lynch refusing to answer and ignoring Robinson on camera. Also, I felt the patriots were the underdogs going into this one.

  23. If all that trash talk is being made in the field let be it just gets us the fans more hyped about the game. Now if this interview went down on a regular day (off season) then the NFL should take some actions about it.

  24. Please, please, please!!!!!!! Stop selling these two as some kind of Representatives of young black successful men, or black men anywhere! Myself who by happenstance, is very successful , and young, black, and male, consider this a very huge insult! And so do my other well to do associates of color. We got a real kick out of this piece. Whether the article is written in favor or non-favor of these athletes…..THEY SPEAK FOR NO ONE BUT THEMSELVES! STOP GIVING US HEROES TED WARREN! GET OFF THE BAND WAGON! LOL
    THESE TWO ARE BAR ROOM FODDER AT BEST!
    When these two want to (stick it to the man) you say they are standing for something. But when the corporate world ask them to behave, and sell their wares on television, these two, like many other athelets, shut their mouths, act like they have sense, and do what ever the white man tells them to do when they are on the commercial set. In my hood we call that SELLING OUT!!! or being the HOUSE NEGRO. In the short, and long run they are hurting themselves , and others. And I know because I am a marketing executive for one of the big three car companies, and we turn away Sherman’s agent on a multi million dollar ad budget, and went in another direction. So for ever one you get, 4 are lost. Not good. Attitude, and altitude .
    They actually give more purposes to the younger non-black community that can actually afford to see them play, buy the jerseys, and entertain themselves at these decadent superbowls to say the least. I can’t believe I’m dignifying this with a response But please do brothers a huge favor when you decide to (write something prolific). Do it with a number 2 pencil, so you can look back at your no knowledge drivel, and erase it! PLEASE!!!!!!!
    MASCULINITY……WARREN PLEASE!!!!

  25. Superb article that is articulated with wit and charisma. I emphatically agree with one portion of the print as it references how to be prepared to articulate your story in your own words and style. This article should be particularly shared with one Stephen A Smith who has become the prototypical a**hole along with his clownish boy from Alabama, Charles ‘I ain’t Black no more’ Barkley.

  26. I like this honest Observation. ..I had become exasperated with the comments people like Steven A. Who plead for Lynch to bow down.
    People are tired of the spin zone. And while it may seem extreme someone has to take that position to show people that you do have a choice..not to be a robot..To go along to get along..If everyone conforms to perception it becomes reality…even when false…
    So

  27. Thank you for writing something so very poignant. This hit the nail on the head in every aspect and I absolutely love the way you capture how we are very multi-faceted. I long ago, after deciding to work for myself and abandon the world of corporate america (specifically being in NY), stopped dressing and speaking the part, but code switching when necessary to totally mind fu@k anyone who is hiring me as a designer. I dress for comfort and like the shock and awe effect.

    Again, thank you.

  28. Pingback: Quick Thoughts From A Pretty Boy Intellectual | Jared A. Walker

  29. I think a relatively sympathetic reading of Lynch’s resistance to providing the performance expected of him is quite defensible, but nonetheless I find the tack taken here–this embrace of violence and dominance as an important part of Black masculinity–to be very troubling. Let’s face it, most of the people at whom that violence and dominance is/will be directed will not be members of the media, who can look after themselves. It is/will be women, and especially Black women, and there is/will be no one to help them. Not Bob Costas, but Janay Rice. (And the idea that a masculinity built on such violence will be “trans and queer inclusive?” Seriously?) Something got off track here.

  30. Bill Bellichick repeats over and over again “We’re on to Cincinnati.”and we’re ok with that. Marshawn Lunch says “I’m only here so I won’t get fined” and he’s vilified for it. Smh. Double standard much?

  31. Good article but the primary issue of how that behavior makes black people look is already loaded with racism. The premise that you choose as a starting point is itself a racist, backward, incorrect thought; I.e. how a RB in the NFL behaves somehow reflects on other people of the same race. This is a premise that sounds reasonable, but is actually so backward and shouldn’t be celebrated or analyzed in this way, unless you enjoy perpetuating more race bias for your kids and the future of media.

    Think of it this way: why does anything marshawn does reflect on other black people? If he is snotty and aloof and repeats silly expressions at media day? How does that have anything to do with how OTHER people with the same skin color are perceived?? It’s a premise you should be fighting, not continuing. When Tom Brady talks to the media, with all his charm and pretty boy good looks…and an incredible understanding of football…most people don’t say “well, all white people are charming like that.” Or when he allegedly is part of deflating footballs, people considered that his TEAM might be cheaters, but I have heard no one say “white people will do anything to win, including cheating.” It’s just not done by ‘white’ writers and, as a white dude, I wonder why so-called ‘blackbmedia’ use one person’s behavior in their own race and assume it reflects on everyone else. It’s such a poor way to group these perceptions. Every time you group behavior as “black or white” I can find another way to group it that won’t ‘feel’ right…and the answer will always be: racism. Racism inside a culture on their own people as well as outside from other races. For instance, when you say marshawn’s behavior reflects on black people and their Masculinity…I wonder why you don’t think his behavior reflects on black women? It’s the same race, right? Or what if I told you that North Korean people are looking at the tape of marshawn and saying that’s how all Americans act.

    Bottom like: Making this an issue of black masculinity is about as correct as a Martian looking down and saying “that’s why I hate earthlings …they are so inarticulate and don’t appreciate the opportunities they have!” Most earthings don’t act like lynch and I think we can agree a analyzing if most black people do…is starting from a place that leads to more racial disconnects.

  32. I think Shawny should be certain to follow the rules. The NFL (like many corporations) should be sure that the rules make sense. Those “talking to the media” rules don’t seem to make much sense. There are plenty of athletes that want to talk. Is this really a black issue? I think it is a people issue. People that are expected to be open and talk a lot because they are an athlete. We expect too much. We want an all access pass to people just because we saw them on tv. That’s not right.

    Richard Sherman, Marshawn Lynch, JJ Watt, Katy Perry, Kerry Washington… all of them. We want more than just the football game or the song or the show. We should allow them a personal life if that’s what they want. The mandatory press tour should only include a few canned comments like they do for actors and singers. What about that?

  33. Pingback: What Marshawn Lynch and Richard Sherman Teach Us About Respectability & Black Masculinity | BlackWomenInBroadcast

  34. I’m a regular reader and appreciate your work. However, I did want to respond to your comment in paragraph 4 that stated “It is irresponsible and unrealistic to think that despite the fluidity of gender performance, that you can socialize men to be antagonistic and aggressive for their job, but then expect them to effortlessly shift to being cooperative and submissive for that same job.” I disagree. It is very responsible and totally realistic for society to expect that each person respond appropriately in different environments. Imagine a highly successful CEO who makes it to the top because she is demanding and in control of every action in her company. Now imagine that she goes home and interacts with her partner in the same way. Next, imagine an attorney that is a barracuda in the court room subjecting those she cross examines to withering cross examination and chilling contempt. Now imagine her off work treating her friends and partner the same way. Do you think its “irresponsible and unrealistic” for them not to recognize that appropriate behavior in one environment is hardly appropriate in another? Keep pushing. I’ll keep reading.

  35. I don’t see how it flips the script to make money off of a system that profits off of you, I think that’s just how the system maintains itself. Idk, the rest of the article was interesting, but you kind of lost me at the end of the first paragraph