Marshawn Lynch is one of the most iconic figures in sports history.
While he’s known for his bruising style of play and showers of Skittles in the endzone, Lynch’s uninformative responses such as “thanks for asking,” “I’m thankful,” and “yeah,” in mandatory press conferences have taken on a life of their own as household phrases and polarizing memes shared on Twitter.
But some wonder if the weirdly poetic phrases such as “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” convey a deeper meaning—an unscripted authenticity that the sports world had never seen before Lynch.
In a collage-style documentary called “Marshawn Lynch: A history,” director David Shields compares Lynch’s media silence protests to protests against racism in United States history. Shields presents Lynch’s actions as a precursor to the social justice and political movements that America is experiencing today.
Culling more than 700 video clips and placing them in dramatic, rapid and radical juxtaposition, this kaleidoscopic film is a powerful political parable about Marshawn Lynch, American media-sports complex and its deep complicity with racial oppression.
[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Seahawks Podcast with host Joe Fann and special guest Gregg Bell].
In the 84-minute film, now available on the streaming service Topic, Shields peels back the layers on the origin of Lynch’s silence, how it then got deeply political, and how younger athletes such as Russell Westbrook and Paul Pierce have learned from Lynch and pushed back on media.
The film begins with some of Lynch’s straightforward interviews from his days at Cal and with the Buffalo Bills. An interview from 2010 resurfaced of Lynch jesting that he didn’t like Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. By the time the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2013, Lynch’s vow of silence tactic was on full display. It was reported that the Seahawks star had been fined on several occasions; however, he’s never had to pay any money to the league.
Marshawn Lynch: A History made its debut last year in Seattle and took home the Special Jury Mention for Creative Use of Archival Footage award at the 2019 International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam. It was also named by Sight & Sound as one of the five best films at the festival.
Watch the trailer below: