In a recent interview with 93.7-The Fan in Pittsburgh Larry Foote labeled Marshawn Lynch as a bad role model for kids, referring to his crotch grabbing and obscene gestures throughout the NFL season. Foote, a current linebacker for the Arizona Cardinals, claims Lynch spends a lot of time talking about his foundation and helping kids (Fam 1st Family Foundation was founded by Lynch to help children overcome the same adversity he did growing up) without recognizing the message he actually sends. He says the Seattle running back is telling these same kids to ignore authority through his actions, children that he believes already don’t listen to their superiors.
“In the real world, it doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t. How can you keep a job? I mean, you got these inner-city kids. They don’t listen to teachers. They don’t listen to police officers, principals. And these guys can’t even keep a job because they say ‘F’ authority.” – Larry Foote
Foote mentions growing up in similar circumstances as Marshawn Lynch, so it is disappointing that he doesn’t empathize with a man who has faced adversity and overcome. Not only is he successful in his own right, but he is also giving back to the same community he struggled in, noting how environment and circumstance can put kids at a disadvantage.
I do think Lynch is smarter and well above the negative image he will portray with these acts. Many of his teammates and media members have referred to him as well spoken and intelligent. However, I also don’t believe it is his job, among the other entertainers of the world, to teach kids right from wrong. I do love when a player can be a positive role model, like Jerome Bettis was for Larry Foote and others growing up. We all do, but Marshawn’s effectiveness in helping children rise above these adversities should only be graded by Marshawn.
Lynch may not be the perfect role model people want, but he is doing his best. That doesn’t mean you must portray him in a positive light. You can easily debate how he could have made a better decision about diving in the endzone holding certain body parts without immediately blaming him for the imprisonment of the next generation. He is trying to help through his foundation, which is a lot more than many others are doing, including the NFL as an organization (see H. A. Goodman of Huffington Post Sports’ take here).