Oakland Raiders: Marshawn Lynch Doesn’t Actually Owe Us A Thing

GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12: Running back Marshawn Lynch
GLENDALE, AZ - AUGUST 12: Running back Marshawn Lynch /

Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch has re-ignited the controversy about National Anthem protests and despite the many calls for an explanation, Lynch doesn’t actually owe anybody anything.

And – here we go again. Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch has apparently conjured up the specter of Colin Kaepernick and set him free in the East Bay – and not as a backup to star quarterback Derek Carr.

Images of him sitting on a cooler during the National Anthem before Sunday’s game against the Cardinals have dominated social media and overshadowed much of the actual game. Which, given some of the problems the team had, might not necessarily be a bad thing.

But Lynch, who did not play in the game, has come under fire for not standing for the Anthem – drawing the obvious parallel to Kaepernick and others who staged protests during the playing of the Anthem last season.

Once those images of him went viral, talk radio and social media lit up with voices on both sides of the spectrum – with many calling on Lynch to clarify and/or justify what he was saying by sitting and – saying nothing.

Let’s be clear here, the only people that actually matter in this debate are Lynch, his teammates, and his HC Jack Del Rio. And on that front, everything seems square enough. After being asked about it, Del Rio had this to say:

"“Talked to Marshawn. Wanted to make sure we’re on the same page. “He said, `This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself. I said, `Just so you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I’m going to respect you as a man. You do your thing, OK? So that’s a non-issue for me.”"

The coach is good with him. So far as we know, the team is good with him – the issue could have — and should have — ended there.

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But no. Of course not. In this day of hot takes and overly-inquiring minds, that explanation isn’t good enough for some. The reason being bandied about, of course, is that it’s such a senstive topic and Lynch is such a high profile guy, the public has a right to know what’s going through his mind. We are owed and explanation from Lynch himself.

That sentiment is neatly summed up by a recent article from Scott Ostler of the San Francisco Chronicle titled, Raiders’ Marshawn Lynch Needs To Address His Sit-Down.

Actually – and with all due respect to Ostler and others who feel this way – Lynch doesn’t need to address a thing if he doesn’t feel like it. He doesn’t need to explain his thought process or his motivations. He doesn’t need to share with the entire class if he’s not moved to do so.

Simply put, Lynch doesn’t owe any of us anything.

In his piece, Ostler eloquently explains his own confusion about Lynch’s sit-down – a confusion that many undoubtedly share given Lynch’s silence on the subject. He also calls on Lynch – multiple times – to explain himself. To share his thoughts and motivations. To help him – and everybody – understand.

All the while overlooking the fact that Lynch doesn’t have to do anything of the sort – and overlooking the fact that he actually penned the reason for it.

"“Until further notice, choice is one of those distinctively American things that we Americans supposedly cherish.”"

In that, Ostler is right – choice is a distinctively American thing that we cherish. That choice extends to not standing for the National Anthem if we so choose. And that choice also extends to not having to explain ourselves for an action that breaks no rules or laws, and causes no overt harm to anybody – such as sitting during the playing of the National Anthem.

So, yes, Mr. Ostler – we value and cherish our freedom of choice in America. Which means that Lynch can choose to explain himself – or not. That is of course, Lynch’s choice to make.

You may want to understand. You may even feel like you need to understand. But your desire to understand doesn’t supersede Lynch’s freedom of choice or expression.

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Despite calls to the contrary, Lynch doesn’t need to do anything other than just be himself and do his own thing. Though, putting up a solid season for the Silver and Black would be really nice.

So please, if you’re beating the drum for Lynch to explain himself, take some of Del Rio’s advice and just, “do your own thing.”