In case you haven't heard, Patrick Moran of Buffalo Sports Daily wrote up a story detailing the personal issues between Marshawn Lynch and Thurman Thomas.
Here's a quick recap: Last year, after Lynch got in trouble with the law for the 2nd time, Thomas said that if he were the GM of the Bills, he would have traded Marshawn Lynch. Thurman unfortunately made the statement during some sort of speech in a town between Parts Unknown and the town from the movie "Funny Farm." The quote got back to TBN and was posted on their Bills blog. Lynch then made a copy of the article and decided to hang it up in his locker for motivation. Of course, the tactic didn't work out because Marshawn had an awful year. Then to top it off, Lynch slighted/ignored Thomas (while with his kid) in the Bills locker room before a game.
I have some strong and conflicting feelings about this story, which I'm sure you are not going to agree with. I keep thinking of questions like "Should ex-players take shots at current players?" and "Does Marshawn Lynch have a right to be angry at Thurman Thomas?" I know most fans are going to be on Thurman's side for all of this. However, I'm going to offer some observations about the news that might make you think twice.
5) I just don't care what former players say
If you are new to my blog, I've kind of a love/hate relationship with former Bills players. Yes, I know it's considered blasphemy to NOT think that Jim Kelly should be the co-owner of the Bills and that Thurman Thomas should be the GM, but I just don't follow the lead. Don't get me wrong, I've admired what those greats did on the football field, but I just wish they would put a sock in it sometimes. The reason for my disdain has to do with the people of Buffalo acting like these former greats represent the Gospel according to Marv Levy. It doesn't matter if Thomas was right or wrong about trading Lynch. Even if he was wrong, people would still think his opinion is fact.
I'm sorry, I know, I sound like a huge jerk, but I've been living in NYC for eight years and I don't hear Giant or Jet fans calling for Phil Simms or Curtis Martin to run the team. I just don't care what the former players of the Bills have to say.
4) Where was the hate last year?
Don't you think the venom towards Marshawn Lynch is a hell of a lot more lethal now, than it was at this time last year? Remember, Lynch's last run-in with the law happened in February of 2009. Since then, he really hasn't done anything wrong off the field. Yes, there was a report that he stole 20 bucks from someone, but in the end, nothing came out of it.
Maybe I'm living under a rock, but at this time last year, you really didn't see too many fans acting as if they would vomit at the thought of Lynch being on the opening day roster. I can only assume that it had something to with him gaining almost 1,400 yards in total offense during the 2008 season. You see what happens when you come off a below average season? I'm sure if Lynch had 1,300 yards last year, fans wouldn't be going all anti-Lynch. Bottom line: Lynch's on the field production was the final straw for Bills fans.
3) Why isn't this making real news?
You want to know how irrelevant the Buffalo Bills are? This story hasn't even made the airwaves at ESPN, yet, NFL Live is all over Gale Sayers calling out Brian Urlacher. I know there are differences between the two stories, but I'm sure if Joe Namath said the Jets should trade Mark Sanchez, the story would have been dissected ad nauseam. Yes, I know, Tim Graham posted it on his blog, but it still didn't make it on the airwaves of ESPN during a very slow news month for the NFL.
This is just a case where ESPN and the national media doesn't give a crap about the Bills. It's the same thing that took place last year when T.O. played hooky from practice and went to Toronto for the day. Of course, no one at ESPN even brought up the story.
On the local front, the story really hasn't taken off with the local media. I'm sure the reason why WGR choose not to cover the story had something to do with their loyalty towards Thomas (who has a weekly segment during football seasons). You can only assume that Thurman doesn't want to be a part of this story.
2) What would have Thurman done if a former player called him out during his playing career?
I assure you, Thurman would go further than just posting the original article in his locker. He would have walked over towards the former player and pulled a conniption fit. You see, Thurman Thomas was known to be a complete hot head during his playing days. If you are ever in Jerry Sullivan's chats, ask him about the mood swings Thurman use to have towards the media.
Anytime an article was negative towards Thurman or the team, Thomas would go ape s#$t and tell off the reporter who wrote the story. If you are ever bored, go to SI.com vault and look up the article Peter King wrote about Thomas after Super Bowl XXVI. To paraphrase what King wrote, Thomas was very immature and acted like a jerk towards the media.
I just have to wonder; what would have happened if OJ Simpson called out Thurman during his playing days? I don't think Thomas would have taken the criticism with a grain of salt. That sort of thought process should have been in the back of Thurman's mind when saying the team should trade Lynch. Marshawn did exactly what Thurman would have done if the roles were reversed. He would have posted the article in his locker and used it for motivation. He would have ignored Thurman and his kid. So, before you chastise Lynch for being disrespectful towards Thurman, just realize that the story would have been the same if the roles were reversed.
1) What the hell does this all mean?
I know it sounds like I'm taking Lynch's side in this whole story. To be honest, I kind of am. It's very simple, Thomas called out Lynch and said the Bills should trade him. Lynch has a right to be a little ticked off at him. Like I said, if the roles were reversed, Thurman would have done the exact same thing and slighted Lynch. If you think Lynch is wrong in being annoyed at Thomas, then you must be smoking the same thing Lynch was found doing in the car he was arrested in last year.
Now, I'm not stupid, I know Lynch is the one that brought the criticism on to himself for being a knucklehead. I know he's a jerk and has easily risen to the top five of most hated athletes in Buffalo. However, that is not the point in all of this. Like the Urlacher and Sayers case, Lynch may think Thomas is out of bounds for calling out his own. Thurman isn't a member of the media and from what everyone has said, he's kind of like an unofficial member of the team's regime.
If Thomas is viewed as being in the inner circle at One Bills Drive, then he really shouldn't say anything in public to put down the players. That's the problem I have with all of this. Thomas seems to have it both ways where he can act like a fan and call out players, but at the same time, he should carry himself better, since he seems to be an unofficial member of the organization. Sorry, but you can't have it both ways. He can't expect Lynch to kiss his butt when he sees him in the locker room. Lynch has a right to be pissed off at Thomas. If Thomas wants to call him out, then Lynch has every right to respond to him accordingly.
I think my biggest question in all of this pertains to how the Bills locker room view guys like Jim Kelly and Thomas? Now, to be fair, I know that some players, like Jairius Byrd and CJ Spiller, are friendly with Thomas. However, these guys not only have their radio shows where they critique the football team, but from what I've read, they can come into the locker room as they please and are involved with the organization. That's completely different than working in the media and calling out players. The media doesn't have an unlimited hall pass at One Bills Drive like Kelly and Thomas do.
I'd love to have someone at TBN write a piece about how some of the current Bills view Thomas and Kelly coming around the locker room. Something tells me that Trent Edwards would have an issue with Jim Kelly saying that the team needs to avoid drafting California quarterbacks.
Personally, I think when players hear these guys call them out, their mentality is kind of like "You use to wear the uniform and didn't like it when someone called you out." Another factor could be jealousy. Today's players will always be in shadow of the 90's Bills. It's kind of like having a girlfriend and you know you're not good enough for them, and whenever the ex-boyfriend comes around with their fancy car, stock options and impeccable reputation, you tend to get defensive. Even if Mr. Right is going to pretend to be your best friend, you have to feel a little threaten by him
Bottom Line: Does Thomas have a right to call out Lynch? Probably. Was Lynch out of line for taking what Thomas said personally? Absolutely not.