Trade Marshawn Lynch From My Brand

Christian Peterson/Getty Image
Super Bowl XLIX is set for this Sunday, and with the focus on “Deflategate” fading, people are now talking about the Marshawn Lynch media day appearance.
If you’ve not followed the story, Marshawn is a superstar running back for the Seattle Seahawks and one of the best at his position. The issue is that he doesn’t like or feel comfortable in talking with the media. In fact, he has refused to participate in a mandatory media session before last year’s Super Bowl, for which he was fined for violating NFL policy. 
Yesterday at Super Bowl Media Day, Marshawn did show up to meet his requirement per NFL rules and he did answer questions, but he repeated the same answer (“I’m here so I don’t get fined”) 29 times in 4 minutes and 51 seconds and then left. I’m not challenging his rights or league policy, but as a fan, father, and brand marketer I have a problem with it. 
  1. As a fan – The game is about its players. I want to hear from Tom Brady, Coach Belichick and others on their perspective about getting to the biggest stage in their professions. I want to hear about Seattle’s defense, the Patriots game plan, and much more. This is the biggest game of their lives! It’s part of the gig. 
  2. As a father – I like my son watching sports and being inspired and motivated. Sports lets us teach our children valuable lessons, like the fact that hard work can make your dreams come true. I want my son to hear of Tom Brady’s and others’ dreams of winning the big game. Now he hears everyone talking about bucking the system or being fined. What a missed opportunity! I heard that Marshawn has a charity and his teammates give him high marks for being a great guy. I want my son to see that. We all deserve to see that side of Marshawn. 
  3. Brand Marketer – As you know, I’m the CMO of Pegasystems. Yes, I’m rooting for the Patriots, but with my marketing hat on, I feel bad for the NFL (and its fans) at how their brand (product) is suffering as a result of Marshawn’s actions or lack of action. In my opinion, it’s taking away from their brand. Marshawn has made it to the biggest stage and is choosing not to fully participate. In fact, he is thumbing his nose at it while he does his Progressive commercials. Sorry Flo, I think he’s hurting your brand, too.
I know many say that we can’t stage everything or force all athletes to be like Tom Brady or Derek Jeter. I agree. But I think they have a responsibility to positively represent the game they play in. I realize too, some of this has become funny, with comedians mocking it and making light of the situation, but I worry about our youth and how they interpret it. Marshawn is on a football team, but he is also part of a larger team, the NFL, and should remember that. Many game ambassadors have gone before him, building this sport we all love, and he now reaps the rewards. I believe he has an obligation for the greater good.
As I’ve followed this story, it brings me back to my own philosophies of what it means to be on a team and part of something bigger. In my case, I work for a great technology company that is a leader in helping the largest companies in the world with innovative strategic business applications. I represent my company and my profession of marketing, using my passion for technology to help businesses be better. It’s not in my job description, it’s in my heart and how I’m wired. As a leader, I work hard to align us to a set of shared goals, setting the bar high in how we represent ourselves to our customers and to our industry. 
It’s just part of the gig. There is no “I” in my team.  No single person is bigger than the game. Not Michael, Kobe, Tiger or Marshawn. 
Go Pats!

Photo: Christian Peterson/Getty Image

In Build for Change: Revolutionizing Customer Engagement through Continuous Digital Innovation, Pegasystems Founder & CEO Alan Trefler shares his insight on what organizations can do to serve the next generation of customers and survive the pending "Customerpocalypse".