PHOENIX - Marshawn Lynch literally grabbed his crotch to express contempt for the assembled throng of 200 media members as he made his way to his podium at the start of Media Day.
For the next 5 minutes or so, Lynch figuratively grabbed his crotch to express contempt for the NFL and its commissioner, Roger Goodell.
Lynch was fined $31,050 by the league for grabbing his crotch as he entered the end zone during two recent Seahawks games. He was fined $100,000 in the past year for his lack of cooperation with the press, including a debacle at last year's Media Day. One report contended that the NFL threatened Lynch with a $500,000 fine if he acted similarly here.
Well, he acted similarly yesterday.
Let's see how the league reacts to this crotch grab.
Lynch stayed on the podium for just under 5 minutes, the minimum required of him. He answered none of the 30 questions asked of him. He repeatedly droned, "I'm just here so I won't get fined," a phrase that trended on Twitter 1 minute after Lynch left the podium. He saluted himself on the big screen in the middle of the US Airways Center. Ever self-serving, Lynch was thrown a bag of Skittles candy, with whom he has an endorsement deal.
Lynch, who timed himself on his smartphone, saw the 5-minute mark pass, arose and said, "Time."
He left the Skittles bag on the stage and bolted.
With more than 57 minutes left in Media Day, Beast Mode entered Airplane Mode and ended all transmissions.
Media Day at the Super Bowl, an hourlong availability of essentially everyone of merit in both organizations held every Tuesday of Super Bowl week, seldom elicits any real information about players or their teams; but then, most interviews with NFL types elicit little information. Top players and the head coach are available 3 or 4 days during Super Bowl week, but the intent of Media Day is to afford access to all players, coaches and executives to all members of the press on one day, in one place.
The NFL has credentialed entertainment reporters and fostered a circus atmosphere, a circus the NFL now charges fans $28.50 to witness.
The availability has devolved to include guys who wear barrels over their bare torsos; Olympic skaters Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski asking fashion questions for NBC; and beautiful women in short skirts who salsa dance with Kam Chancellor.
OK, we can keep that last one.
But, be it cramped and hot and inelegant, Media Day serves its purpose.
If you need to speak with the kicker or the punter or the special-teams ace, you get that done at Media Day.
If your paper or website or station cannot afford to send you to the Super Bowl site for the entire week, you get all of your interviews done on Media Day.
Every player is contractually obligated to participate at Media Day.
Every player also is contractually obligated to interact with the press after games and during weeks of game preparation.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a master at gamesmanship and himself a reticent and often demeaning interview, yesterday fired this shot across the bow of SS Beast Mode:
"That's our role - to be the conduit between our team and all the fans - all of you that cover the team and the fans that read or watch or listen. That's an important part of the process," said Belichick, who lived and died on football news as a kid. "Having been on the other side of this . . . that's what I wanted. I wanted information. I wanted to hear what's going on. We provide the fans who are so interested in our team with information that makes it interesting and exciting for them. That's why we're all here."
His refusal to engage the press, and therefore the fans, is why Lynch was fined before.
That's why Lynch should be fined again; fined, at least.
If he is allowed to act this way, nothing would prevent other players - all players - from acting this way.
That is why Lynch not talking is a big deal.
Teammate Richard Sherman's contention that Lynch should be interviewed by a handpicked pool reporter is a typically Shermanian, unsophisticated solution: The best interviews grow organically, in the moment. Sherman, perhaps the best interview in the NFL, should know that.
Every player in the league who believes Lynch should not be fined should contribute his own money to his next fine.
His teammates' defense of him is understandable; to them, Lynch is loyal in the locker room and ferocious on the field, fully worthy of his "Beast Mode" nickname.
Also, consider their general profile: These largely are very young men whose talent has afforded them shelter and structure most of their lives. They are people for whom "hard work" equates to lifting weights and running sprints; for whom "commitment" means adhering to a loose daily schedule that tells them when to wake, when to eat, when to think; for whom "adversity" means being .500 midway through a season and somehow making the playoffs.
They know little of the real world and its gravity.
Despite their existence in a universe parallel to most people's, they at least should understand the weight of obligation.
Lynch's boycott of the press is no different from boycotting a meeting, a practice or a game. What if he mailed it in at the Super Bowl the way he mailed it in on Media Day?
He is contractually obligated to be present at both, to perform professionally at each.
It is part of his job, part of his duty.
Duty should not be served. It is part of being a professional. It's part of being an adult.
Marshawn Lynch is neither.
As expected, his antics stole the spotlight from other, less distasteful distractions.
Belichick waxed sentimental about his love for Jon Bon Jovi and all things Jovian (sorry, Jupiter). Tom Brady buys chocolate bars as a late-night 7-Eleven indulgence. Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount believes the Seahawks' defense is not made up of vampires:
"They're not immortal."
Or invincible, for that matter.
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski created a stir by reading aloud from an erotic novel that starred a fictional version of himself. The erotica was poorly done and, really, coincidental.
The news was that Gronk can read.
Spritely divas Lipinski and Weir, former Olympic skaters working the fashion angle for NBC, showed up in fabulous outfits. He had on a scarlet jacket over a silk shirt with a gemstone necklace, crammed his feet into 4-inch wedge booties and wore more makeup than she did.
The biggest diva in Phoenix was Marshawn Lynch, and the worst sort of diva:
He contends he wants no attention beyond the game-day adulation of his fans . . . then arrives for Media Day in sunglasses, a special (and possibly unsanctioned) Beast Mode hat. He grabs his crotch, flashes a hollow, gold-toothed smile and figuratively flips the league the bird.
Within an hour, the hat was available online for $33, touted as the one Lynch wore during Media Day.
It was the height of hypocrisy. Lynch was afforded a priceless, 5-minute ad for Skittles and New Era caps.
Both are corporate partners with the NFL.
Maybe the league should just call it even.
On Twitter: @inkstainedretch