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‘I’m just ’bout that action, boss.’ What journalists should learn from that awesome Marshawn Lynch interview

Super Bowl Media Day was today, and of all the sound bytes and interviews, the one everyone’s talking about is the one that was probably least likely to happen: Deion Sanders’ “I’m just ’bout that action, boss” interview with Marshawn Lynch:

The surprise part of this interview is twofold: For one thing, Lynch is a notorious non-talker; for another, he plays on the same team as arguably the league’s most outspoken player in recent memory. Suffice to say, no one really figured the quote of the day would come from Marshawn Lynch.

The interview didn’t just happen, though. Deion Sanders made it happen, and in doing so he demonstrated a few things that even seasoned journalists could take notes on:

  • Just do it. Deion knows Marshawn doesn’t like to talk. Everyone knows that. Marshawn had positioned himself out of the way, trying his best to avoid talking. But Deion went up to him anyway. The quotes you won’t get are the ones you don’t ask for.
  • Be friendly. This could’ve easily been a confrontational situation from an exasperated reporter just trying to get “a quote”—the same old “blah, blah, we’re here to play our game and execute, blah, blah,” routine that Erin Andrews bemoaned after her Richard Sherman interview. Deion knew he’d have to get Marshawn comfortable if he was gonna get anything out of him.
  • Be persistent. Once Deion had Marshawn cornered, he made that interview happen. Look at the video and watch Deion’s body language—he’s practically blocking Lynch from stepping away.
  • Talk, don’t “interview.” This doesn’t play like a traditional media interview, and that’s because it’s not. Deion knew he wasn’t interviewing Peyton Manning here, so he just loosened up and talked. And it worked great—“I’m just ’bout that action, boss.” Great quote, and one we’ll probably be using for years to explain why Marshawn isn’t talking again.

One parting thought: Baseball, football, interviewing…is there anything Deion Sanders isn’t good at? I guess rapping, but three out of four ain’t bad.

This post was originally published on Paul Balcerak’s blog. Balcerak is a member of the board of the Western Washington Chapter of SPJ.

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