NEW YORK -- Now, more than ever, it's time for "Beast Mode" ... but not from Marshawn Lynch. From the NFL office.
Meaning? Meaning penalizing Lynch for his behavior during this week's media sessions when he is supposed to ... no, required to ... sit and answer questions from the Super Bowl media.
Lynch hasn't exactly done that. In fact, at Tuesday's Media Day, he sat in silence before leaving six minutes into the session, then pulled the plug after seven uncooperative minutes Wednesday. The league said it wouldn't fine him but would monitor the situation, but, sorry, that's a no can-do.
Enough is enough. The NFL must get as tough on Lynch as the Seattle running back is on would-be tacklers.
In essence, it must swing into "Beast Mode" and let him know that his conduct not only isn't acceptable; it's downright contemptible and won't be tolerated. And I know just how to do it: Fine him. I don't care what it is. I just care that it's big -- enough to stop others from exercising the same stupid stunt in the future.
Yeah, I know Lynch didn't speak this season and opened up only under the threat of a $50,000 fine. But I also know he's gone into Garbo Mode again, and that tells me something: Either he didn't pay attention or he's begging to get fined.
So fine him. Make it $75,000, $100,000. It doesn't make a difference. Just make it big enough to get the attention of others. Because if Lynch skates on this, he sets a precedent for the next reluctant interviewee to sit for five minutes, answer a question or two, then stiff the media because ... well, because he's "different" and outside the laws that pertain to everyone else.
Except Marshawn Lynch isn't.
He's no different than others who've been here before, and I offer Randy Moss as an example. He didn't want to talk to the Super Bowl media, either, but he did because ... well, because he had to. When someone suggested he was so good and insightful that he should try it more often, Moss shook his head.
"I'm doing this only because I have to," he said. "Otherwise, I'd get fined."
The same went for the Colts' Marvin Harrison when he was at Super Bowl XLI. He didn't want to do a stand-up, either, but he did. The reason: He had an obligation.
And that's what this is all about: An obligation. Like it or not, Lynch is just like everyone player and coach here: He's obligated to speak to the media, and, sorry, but testifying inaudibly for seven minutes Wednesday -- mostly, in answer to questions asked by teammate Michael Robinson, sitting to his left -- doesn't count.
"I'm just here so I won't get fined, boss," Lynch said. "That's the only reason I'm here."
OK, that's a start. But that's as far as Lynch went. And at Tuesday's Media Day he didn't even do that before pulling the plug on the session, basically daring the league office to fine him. But it didn't.
Now it must. Because if Marshawn Lynch can do this, saying that by showing up he's fulfilling his obligation, what's to prevent 52 other players from pulling the same childish stunt? Or who's to prevent him from going silent if he's chosen the game MVP Sunday?
Answer: Not the league office.
Coach Pete Carroll tried to explain his reluctant star running back, saying that "we would like to comply and do everything that we can to the bests of our abilities, but we are who we are." Meaning? You tell me. I don't get it, either.
Carroll also said, "We have obligations that we try to fulfill the best we can," but apparently he hasn't met Marshawn Lynch. Because he didn't try, period.
He wasn't interested in answering questions. He often bowed his head and wouldn't look at the army of reporters in front of him. And he seemed more interested in asides with Robinson than direct questions from his interviewers -- that is, until he ... not the league or his team ... decided he'd had enough and walked out on the session.
"The 12s (Seattle's 12th Man) don't have a problem with it," Lynch said before leaving. "The people I play for on Sunday don't have a problem with it. The media has a problem with it. It's a problem if they choose to take something away from me for not doing it."
That sounds like a challenge to me. If Lynch is daring the league to fine him, then the NFL has only one choose.
Fine him. And fine him now.
--Clark Judge, a Senior NFL Writer for The Sports Xchange, has covered pro football since 1982 and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee.