Marshawn Lynch is in many ways the perfect provocateur to advance the Colin Kaepernick story (if that's what he was doing) because, unlike most athletes, he operates serenely yet obstinately as though he has nothing to lose.
That is, after all, the ultimate leverage.
Thus, when he sat through the national anthem in Glendale Saturday night eating a banana with two Oakland Raiders staffers standing in front of him, it was a gesture that was left for the observer to interpret.
Maybe he was speaking out for Kaepernick. Maybe he was protesting the terrorist events in Charlottesville, Va. Maybe he was making a different political point. Maybe he was just making a statement about the value of potassium in a daily diet.
But Lynch doesn’t do things for no reason at all. He is his own statement, and even if he doesn’t tell you what the statement is, he also won’t back away from it.
So the scene of him sitting and eating while the rest of the stadium was displaying varying states of faux- and for-real patriotism became its own parlor game: “What did it mean?” “What did he say?” “Why didn’t he say anything?” “Did he mean what he didn’t say?”
We do know that Lynch knows how people outside his circle react to him, and how little he cares. He is inheriting the wind knowing full well where it will come from, and with a pretty good idea how hard it will blow. And, mime that he is, he left without offering a comment to insure that the debate would run wild before he put parameters on it.
He told head coach Jack Del Rio about his thoughts to sitting during the anthem after the game, and that he hasn’t stood for the anthem in 11 years, which begs two questions: “Nobody noticed?” and “Nobody cared?”
And if both these things are true, the NFL’s conspiracy of silence re: Kaepernick is all the more curious. If Lynch sat out the anthem for a decade and the league had no issue, why is Kaepernick Public Example No. 1?
But more to the point, is the league ready to make Lynch Public Example No. 2? Unlike Kaepernick, he is under contract and an active player, and would have to be cut by the Raiders to introduce the possibility of a blackballing.
All we know for now, though, is that Marshawn Lynch essentially said, “Bring it. But first, figure it out.”
Because, after all, Lynch being Lynch, this really could be just about potassium after all. That’s not the way to bet, mind you, but it isn’t out of the question either.