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Silent star irks the NFL

You have the right to remain silent. Unless you’re Seattle Seahawks star running back Marshawn Lynch.

Lynch was recently fined $50,000 for refusing to speak with the media. Widely known as one of the toughest running backs in the game, he is also recognized as one of the toughest players in the National Football League to interview.

Even aside from the major national media outlets, it’s extremely rare the athlete affectionately known as “Beast Mode” speaks to local reporters.

And the NFL isn’t about to let one of its athletes thumb his nose at the rules.

The NFL, particularly since Roger Goodell took over as the league’s commissioner in 2006, has taken a hard-line approach to the rules. It’s taken the same hard-line approach on roughing the passer, helmet-to-helmet contact, criminal charges and other rules that get broken from time to time. So far, Lynch has seemed content to pay the cash and keep his mouth shut.

But Goodell is bound to eventually deem him a “repeat offender” and that $50,000 fine could soon hit six figures, especially with the Seahawks set to hit the playoff gridiron this weekend.

I’ve heard fans crying out about this ruling being a violation of his freedom of speech, or that he should be able to use his Fifth Amendment rights to remain silent.

One fan suggested taking up a collection to pay for Marshawn Lynch’s fine for silence. I think Marshawn is more than capable of handling the “chump change” fine. With an annual salary of about $7 million, he makes more than twice that charge in the first quarter of a regular season game.

Whatever Lynch’s reasoning is for remaining silent, I think it’s refreshing to see an NFL player who doesn’t feel the need to spout off at the media after every game, take verbal shots at opponents, referees, teammates.

Frankly, most NFL players should take a page out of Lynch’s book and keep their mouths — and their Twitter accounts — shut a bit more often.

This isn’t an issue of the First Amendment. Lynch is contractually obligated by the NFL to speak to the media.

If he chooses to remain silent, it may cost his bank account, but he’ll gain it back in respect.

Garrett Rudolph is the managing editor of The Chronicle. He can be reached at 509-826-1110 or via email at grudolph@omakchronicle.com.

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