There is a whole world of experts out there who specialize in reading people’s internal thoughts by studying their body language. You’ve probably seen the FOX TV show “Lie To Me“, where Tim Roth is an interrogation specialist who aids investigations by interpreting microsignals on suspect’s face or this classic scene from True Romance (Warning: lots of violence and some rough language – but an awesome scene). I’ve decided to start a fun little column where I interpret players’ body language from the locker room interviews. Leave me some feedback at the bottom and let me know what you think.
Today, we will be breaking down Marcedes Lewis, who I pointed out in yesterday’s column is horribly underperforming and whose body language seems to indicate he doesn’t really care. Here is the video of yesterday’s locker room interviews that we will be breaking down. (All images and video from Jaguars.com)
- We see Marcedes Lewis interviewed at the 0:51 mark in the video. In his first clip, Marcedes is talking about his tendency to put “pressure on [himself] to make the big play” and how it’s time for him to start making those plays. At the end of the clip, he says he’s got to find a way to make the catch and if someone’s arms are in his face or in his way, he’ll break their arm to make the play. Marcedes is displaying an interesting combination of body language. In answering the question, he alternates from a soft stare, downward and to the left, to direct eye contact with wide, open eyes, staring at the interviewer (as seen below). A downward stare to the left typically indicates that the person is assessing their internal feelings and the lack of eye contact and downward gaze usually indicates submission and possibly a feeling of guilt. Marcedes’ seems to use eye contact with wide eyes and raised eyebrows to make emphasis on certain points he says. In the video, he uses this look after saying “great play” and “that’s how I feel” and as he pledges to find a way to make those plays. Raised eyebrows indicate the desire for attention or approval. The eye contact through softened eyes is a way of saying “you can believe me” and “I’m non-threatening”. A stare is also used to assess the other person. Here, Marcedes seems to be emphasizing that he is sincere and wanting to do better than he’s done so far this season. The combination of his facial expressions also seems to ask, “Do you still believe what I’m saying?” and “Do you still approve of me?”
- In another clip of Marcedes, which is shown later in the video around the 2:11 mark, he is discussing Mr. Automatic, Josh Scobee. During this entire dialogue, he is for the most part not making eye contact and is gently stroking his neck, as seen below. This soothing gesture is typically done when a person is uncomfortable while they are talking. Covering the windpipe with the hand is also a defense gesture, usually done when the person feels they are at risk of an attack. I wish we could hear the entire exchange between the interviewer and Lewis, but it seems that things have become uncomfortable at this point. It’s never comfortable for an underperforming person to be asked to talk about someone else who is performing well, because it feels like they are being compared. This part of the clip is worth watching, because you can sense an underlying discomfort throughout this dialogue. Compared to past videos of Lewis, where his vocal tone is usually low and his cadence typically deep and measured, he is speaking faster, choppier, and with a higher vocal tone (usually caused by a tightened windpipe, which is the result of being uncomfortable). He sounds like he is B.S.’ing the interviewer through this question and wants to hurry him along and get this over with. After making a reference to Scobee being like the part in the movie “where you know the kicker’s gonna make the kick at the end of the movie”, he flashes a very peculiar smile, seen in the second picture below. This is accompanied by a brief opened palm, but his arm is still tight to his body. His body language is still closed and tight, a sign of defense, and the arm is still in place as a defense mechanism, protecting the body and organs from the feeling of attack. The brief open palm and fleeting, forced smile are a subconscious attempt to feign openness and agreeability, but the rest of Marcedes’ body indicates that he still uncomfortable and defensive.
- Marcedes, flashing a forced and uncomfortable smile.
So what does all this mean? Well, it’s all amateur speculation, but I think it’s pretty simple. Marcedes is a proud guy. He has grown up through high school and college groomed to be an elite athlete. He has been a winner and a dominant performer for a long time and right now, he’s playing very poorly and if not being asked directly, knows that he’s probably under attack by the media for getting a fat contract and then mailing it in. He feels small and indicates that with his body language. He feels attacked and indicates that with his body language. He’s not comfortable being asked about the guys who are playing well (Scobee, in this case) and doesn’t like feeling compared to someone who’s doing well while he’s doing poorly. Frankly, anyone player is going to be a little tense around the media when they aren’t playing well, because we all know these guys are saying when they leave the locker room. However, I like that Marcedes seems to still yearn for their approval and seems sincere when he’s pledging to do better. Let’s hope he can put the first half of this season behind him and become the weapon in the Red Zone and over the middle that Blaine Gabbert desperately needs right now.
What do you guys think?
– Andrew Hofheimer