Lynch case will resonate with fans

Marshawn Lynch's hit-and-run case will reach a conclusion soon. But the aftermath will linger. While some fans will stand by the running back, many others will not. BFR's Tyler Dunne explains...

Everybody has the right to remain silent – the right to let the facts carefully and meticulously unravel on the path to justice.

But it's a principal of law that must never be abused. A right, not a cop-out. A pillar of democracy, not a crutch for the guilty.

If Marshawn Lynch does indeed admit guilt in the hit-and-run case this week as expected, then he officially falls under the "crutch" category.

No, he did not do what so many other (wiser) pro athletes do after committing a crime: come clean to the fan base, admit fault, promise to learn from the mistake and move forward. We're a forgiving country that grants second and third chances…to those that are honest.

Jason Giambi is embraced today. Barry Bonds? Well, not so much.

Lynch shielded himself under the right to remain silent, which is perfectly legal.

But is it right to hit someone with a vehicle, slow down to a complete stop, see the victim is injured and then slam on the gas to flee the scene (as recalled by one source in The Buffalo News)?

Is it right to peel away from the victim after her friend screamed to stop (as recalled by another source)?

Is it right to then text message a Bills security official six hours after the accident, while simultaneously refusing to talk to Buffalo police?

No, no and no. You get the feeling that if Lynch could have gotten away with the hit-and-run, he would have.

All in all – regardless of this week's ruling – you can bet this entire ordeal will turn fans off.

Sure, many Bills fans will stand by the running back that won over their hearts last season with so many gritty, between-the-tackle runs. But many others won't. For those diehards that look beyond the box score, Lynch's ruthless hit-and-run resonates. It hits home. It's worse than the clichéd PR nightmare. If Lynch immediately grabbed the mic, held a press conference and genuinely apologized to the Buffalo fan base, the backlash wouldn't be nearly as bad.

But he didn't. The case dragged and he didn't cooperate with police.

And now a ton of diehards will have an awfully hard time coughing their hard-earned money to see a criminal in uniform. Remember, this is a fan base that's taken its share of haymakers to the chin. Eight years and zero playoff appearences. Its Football Christmas was stripped from them – the Buffalo-Miami game will be played in Toronto. The lingering move to Canada seems inevitable. The missing piece to the offense, James Hardy, flashed a gun at his father. And now, its star player will be charged in a hit-and-run case.

Over the past decade, the NBA has lost arenas of fans to this exact effect. Most blue-collar fans have no time for thuggery. Why do you think David Stern administered a dress code and more trigger-happy technical fouls? To clean the game's image. Maybe the Boston Celtics won the championship last week, but most of those 80's generation fans that lived for Lakers-Celtics are long gone, watching The Weather Channel instead of KG and Kobe.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is resiliently trying to steer the NFL away from this trend. It is his No. 1 platform (Don't be surprised if Lynch is suspended for an extensive period of time by the league after the case is settled legally).

So for the grassroots, homegrown, tailgatin' in minus-5 degree wind chill, "I was at The Comeback," Marv Levy Era, diehard Buffalo Bills fans, Marshawn Lynch's hit-and-run goes far beyond any crime that's given to him. Yes, he had the right to remain silent, but he also had the duty to be genuine to his fans.

Most fans sincerely care about their athletes. When the players aren't sincere back…the fans dwindle.

thdunne@gmail.com


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