Once can be considered a random incident. Twice begins to reveal a trend. The third time, and Marshawn Lynch will be looking for a new employer and possibly a new career.
The math here is simple: two incidents with the law in 10 months equals an impending suspension. And the message coming from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is even easier to understand: if you run into trouble off the field, you won’t be running on the field. The ‘wrong place, wrong time’ plea doesn’t fly here in the eyes of the Bills, the fans and Goodell.
When Lynch looks in the mirror, he only has his reflection staring back at him to blame for his indiscretions. Last June, he was involved in a hit-and-run incident that injured a woman. To make matters worse, Lynch had a self-imposed gag order, refusing to talk to the authorities or the media about the incident for almost four weeks.
Last month while in Southern California, police approached Lynch’s vehicle, and after detecting the smell of marijuana, he was arrested on a felony charge for carrying a concealed weapon.
From a legal standpoint, Lynch has been lucky. Since the woman involved in the hit-and-run accident wasn’t seriously injured, Lynch avoided criminal charges and was given a $100 fine and had is driver’s license and registration revoked.
For his latest legal problem last month, Lynch pled guilty to misdemeanor gun charges and was sentenced three years probation and 80 hours of community service. His felony gun charge was reduced to three misdemeanors, and no drug charges were filed.
Off the field, it’s no secret Lynch isn’t gaining many brownie points. His 27-day vow of silence last year was a public relations disaster, and admittedly, Lynch has said the entire situation was handled badly.
And now Lynch has another mark on his record, but what’s more troubling is the fact that after Lynch was a given a reprieve and went undisciplined by Goodell, you would’ve thought that that would serve as his wakeup call. Now, unfortunately, in just two short years in the NFL, Lynch has quickly used up two strikes, with little margin for error left.
The big question of course is whether or not Lynch can walk the line and avoid any more screw-ups. There are plenty of people who will say that it’s only a matter of time before Lynch finds himself in police custody again, but on the surface it appears Lynch is handling this situation better than he did a year ago.
He’s shown remorse and humility, two elements that were painfully missing from his encounters with the media about his hit-and-run last year. He appears sorry that he’s embarrassed himself, his family and the Bills. He’s vowed to step up to the plate and become a better person. But we’re all aware that talk is cheap. Words are just words unless they are followed through by actions. Only time will tell if Lynch is able to go from misguided and troubled to model citizen.
Hopefully, this time Lynch will wise up, and Goodell’s message will stick. He knows, along with the rest of us, that a suspension is coming. It’ll probably be anywhere from 1-4 games, which puts a damper on the announcement of the Bills-Patriots tussle that will kick of Monday Night Football in 2009. All is not lost for Lynch in the eyes of the fans. Our message is simple: grow up, walk the line and cause problems for opposing defenses, not court room attorneys.
It would be great if 10 years from now we were debating between Marshawn Lynch and Thurman Thomas as the greatest Bills running back of all time, rather than comparing him to the likes of Lawrence Phillips, a guy who had all the talent in the world on the football field, but had an even greater talent of finding numerous ways to end up in jail off the field.