Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch doesn't fit into your standard box, but it's clear the one-of-a-kind running back has garnered a significant cache of public support, given the news of his recent endorsement deal with Skittles.
On the same day he irritated the Pro Football Writers Association by barely acknowledging the media at Super Bowl's Media Day, it was announced that Lynch signed deal a with Skittles, as reported by Darren Rovell of ESPN.com:
The candy brand announced on Tuesday a formal deal with the Seattle Seahawks running back, whose relationship with the product dates to when his mother started giving him what she called "power pellets" in his Pop Warner playing days.
Rovell notes Lynch will be getting paid an undisclosed amount of money to represent the company and that Skittles will donate $10,000 for every touchdown "Beast Mode" scores in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Skittles could have continued allowing Lynch to endorse the brand without paying him. His love of the candy and use of it during games has been a topic of discussion nationally for the past couple of years.
But with the emergence of Seattle as an NFL powerhouse, and with Lynch being a key member of the uprising, his popularity has increasingly become evident.
Not only that, but his love for Skittles has become a sort of rallying point for Seahawks fans—a point that was clearly illustrated this past season when fans at CenturyLink Field would pelt the running back with Skittles bags after every touchdown.
Does Marshawn Lynch need to give more time to the media?
The salient point worth dwelling on for a moment, however, isn't that he's become a hugely popular sports figure, but that he's doing it while going against the grain.
Most NFL superstars are comfortable in front of a camera. Many of them have become adept at spouting off standard lines to standard questions like, "we just need to execute the game plan and play together," or some regurgitated line we've all heard 1,000 times before.
Lynch can seemingly barely tolerate the bright lights of interview cameras, and he's not going to give a standard answer.
He made this point with incredible clarity during Media Day, when he spoke at the podium for all of six minutes, 21 seconds and then said the word, "sh-t" during an interview with NFL Network's Deion Sanders, as Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com notes.
Per Florio, PFWA president Orlando D. Ledbetter issued a statement:
Several of our long-standing and high profile members were appalled by Mr. Lynch’s conduct and refusal to answer any questions. We find the statement that by the league that ‘Players are required to participate and he participated’ to be an affront to our membership. However, we are encouraged that the league will continue to closely monitor this situation.
“I just feel it’s crazy how much time people put into this media stuff,” he recently said, via Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune. “If they put as much time into the media as they put into something else in life, they’d be great at doing something."
For Lynch, the only thing that matters is how he performs on the field, and clearly, many fans feel the same way.
Nobody runs the ball with more ferocity and constant drive than Lynch, who, according to Pro Football Focus, has broken 106 tackles since the beginning of the 2013 regular season:
Marshawn Lynch forced another 7 missed tackles vs SF. Now has 106 in 2013 inc playoffs. #Beastmode— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 20, 2014
Lynch let his playing talk for him, rather than answer media questions, and still the Skittles continued to rain down on game day.
It's Lynch's silent warrior act that fans love, and apparently, so do his teammates. B/R's Ryan Riddle played with Lynch at Cal when both were in college, and he gave a glimpse into how the running back's teammates view him:
Lynch is also praised as a hard worker by his peers and respected as a leader, more for his actions than his words. He may not always have much to say, but when he does, it’s generally positive and almost never is it about himself.
There are plenty of NFL stars who speak eloquently and at least act like they feel comfortable in the spotlight. But there are very few superstars who steadfastly "stay in their own lane," as Lynch told Sanders, and keep to themselves.
It's clear plenty of fans are rallying behind Lynch, regardless of whether he says a word into a microphone before or after the game. He's uniquely talented on the field, and he's unique off it, too.
His new deal with Skittles simply shines a light on the fact that there are plenty of fans who adore him for who he is. And if the running back and his teammates win Super Bowl XLVIII, then you can be sure his popularity will only continue to grow.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78