At least Marshawn Lynch is consistent.
Marshawn Lynch again is being fined for grabbing his crotch after scoring a monster touchdown during the NFC Championship game and will be fined once again for refusing to speak to the media after a game. This time, he'll pay $20,000 for the "obscene gesture" and the NFL is threatening to fine him "significantly more" than the $50,000 Lynch has already paid twice for ignoring media obligations.
His teammate, Chris Matthews, was fined $11,050 for what the league says was an "obscene gesture" that mimicked Lynch's signature crotch grab. However, Lynch and Williams say the latter was fined only for shaking Lynch's hand after a touchdown. Lynch then tweeted that he "feels embarrassed to work for a particular organization that fined a teammate of mine for shaking my hand after a touchdown."
The NFL has spent much of the 2014 season scrambling to update policies after they've been revealed as weak and inconsistent, and the revised policies will benefit the players, teams, and leagues. But as the 2015 Super Bowl comes to conclude the NFL's craziest season, the NFL's predilection for highly subjective discipline at the hands of its commissioner remains evident in non-football fines.
Marshawn Lynch's $100,000 fine for two combined incidents in which he refused to speak to the media stands as the highest fine during the 2014 season for a player who was not also suspended. Put simply, only players who used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) or assaulted their loves ones and subsequently lost weeks of their salary paid the league more than Lynch.
Is a player's refusal to speak to reporters really worthy of a higher fine than a blindside block ($22,050) or a horse collar tackle ($16,537)?
At the beginning of the season, the NFL releases its list of standard fines for on-field football violations. The amounts hover around three increments: $8,268, $16,537, and $22,050. How the NFL decided on those is unclear. Reflecting on the league's wonky personal conduct policy and PED/illegal substance policy, it seems the on-field football fines were once the NFL's strongest showing of consistent punishment.
The Rice Saga
Marshawn Lynch And The Golden Cleats
Prior to last week's NFC Championship game, it was reported that the league had threatened to restrict Marshawn Lynch from playing in the game if he wore a pair of all-gold cleats. Cleat substitutions are permitted if the player clears it with the league ahead of time, which Lynch presumably knew, but to eject or possibly suspend Lynch for wearing gold cleats would be a power play by the NFL that would have major ramifications on the outcome of the game and the quality of the entertainment they facilitate.
In repeating the same behaviors that he's been punished for already, Marshawn Lynch knows what he's doing, and he knows what to expect. His job requires him to speak with the media and act in a way that the league arbitrarily determines as positively representing their sport. The media availability requirement may be a silly job requirement, but it's a pre-established expectation nonetheless. Is it a requirement that should be reconsidered? It might be, but it's not the primary point of consideration when discussing how the NFL is choosing to punish Lynch.
The league won't back down. Lynch can keep crotch-grabbing and giving pointless statements — when he gives them at all — and the league will just increase their fines and punishment in corresponding increments.