I agree with my colleague, Allen Wilson, who points out on our Billboard blog that much of the opinion on Marshawn Lynch is a little over the top. As I pointed out in today's column, I no longer give Lynch the benefit of the doubt. I think he's out of control and is heading for more serious trouble if he doesn't start making smarter choices off the field.
But it seems a little extreme to suggest that the Bills should trade Lynch or simply cut him. I can understand the disdain of fans who have been led to believe that the Bills organization has a higher standard of character than other NFL teams. It's a myth. They're no different from most teams. They drafted a player (James Hardy) who had been charged with assaulting a woman and who pulled a gun on his father after he was drafted. They traded for a player (Marcus Stroud) who had served a drug suspension.
In the end, though, it's a business, and the Bills have a large investment in Lynch. They used the 12th overall pick on him in 2007 and gave him $10 million in guaranteed money. He has four years left on a six-year contract. So he isn't nearly in the same contract situation as Willis McGahee was when the Bills gave up on him. McGahee had a year left and would almost surely have held out for an extension that Ralph Wilson had no intention of granting.
So the Bills will allow the case to play out and hope that Lynch gets off easy and doesn't get suspended by the NFL. They need him on the field next year. It's a stretch to suggest that Fred Jackson could carry the load and an unproven backup could make up for Lynch's absence. He's a very good back. The Bills need to win this season to justify the decision to keep Dick Jauron. They're not going to kick a key asset to the curb.
Still, the guys in charge need to sit Lynch down and make it very clear that he can't continue to run with a bad crowd and behave with a colossal sense of arrogance and entitlement. It will end badly if he does. I predicted that he would get into trouble again after the accident on Chippewa. If someone doesn't convince him to change his ways, he's likely to get in trouble again.
As the cops said last year, it's a pattern of behavior. The apologists can talk about how tough it is for NFL players, how they're targets and need to arm themselves. It's rationalizing. I don't know what happened in Culver City, but Lynch's act in Buffalo needs modifying. That's what this is about. It's simple juvenile behavior. It's disingenuous to make this into some sociological issue, and it doesn't do Lynch any good.