SEATTLE – A few random thoughts as we wait to see if Marshawn Lynch will participate in a, giggle, press conference on Tuesday to officially announce his return to the Seahawks:
- It would be foolhardy to expect miracles from a 33-year-old back who hasn’t carried the ball since October 2018, when he landed on injured reserve with a groin injury;
- If anyone, however, can provide a miracle, it would be the man who once caused seismic activity from the reaction to a run that couldn’t possibly have been of this earth;
- In the absence of a miracle, having Lynch around will still be a kick, and it certainly could galvanize a Seahawks team that looked dead in the water Sunday against Arizona.
Was anyone talking Monday about the most abysmal Seahawks performance of the year? Barely. All the buzz – and it quickly turned into a din – revolved around the ramifications of Lynch’s possible, and then actual, return.
For Pete Carroll, who in the aftermath of Sunday’s 27-13 debacle against the Arizona Cardinals had talked about the critical need to flush the game instantly, that must have been music to his ears.
The evolution of Lynch’s comeback no doubt played out similarly around the region after the Seahawks were left critically depleted at running back by injuries to Rashaad Penny, Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise.
First reaction: “Haha, they should bring back Marshawn. And Shaun Alexander while they’re at it. And why not Franco Harris, too?”
Second reaction: “You know, that’s actually not a half-bad idea. But Marshawn would never come back here, after the way it ended. And who knows what kind of shape he’s in, anyway?. He’s probably eaten a lot of Skittles this year.”
Third reaction: “Hey, this could really happen.”
Final reaction: “This is really happening! Wowowoowow!”
The Seahawks will go into this with their eyes wide open. They know exactly what sort of ancillary baggage comes with Lynch. He will march to his own drum, which can mean shooting the bird to the sideline, as it appeared Lynch did during a game in 2013 against the Cardinals when the play call came from Russell Wilson: a pass on third-and-one from the 1-yard line.
(Quick aside: In the business, that’s what’s known as “foreshadowing.”)
(Another aside: Wilson threw a touchdown pass to tight end Kellen Davis on the play. In the business, that’s what’s known as “a red herring.”)
The Seahawks know Lynch won’t be chumming it up with the media, though contrary to popular belief, there was no rift with the local folks covering the team prior to his “I’m just about the action, Boss” and “I’m here so I won’t get fined” declarations during Super Bowl week.
It was an amicable situation that blew up only when Lynch’s presence was demanded during Super Bowl media turnouts. It worked out well for him, anyway; that defiance turned Lynch into something of a national folk hero, even more so than he was already. The guy oozes likability and charisma, even (or especially) in silence or a few words.
That same defiant streak revealed itself in 2015, when Lynch didn’t get on the plane with his teammates for a playoff game in Minnesota. Lynch had practiced all week with the first team, and Carroll had said on a radio show that morning that he “will play” for the first time since undergoing abdominal surgery six weeks earlier.
Lynch did indeed play the following week in a playoff loss to Carolina, his final appearance as a Seahawk, at least until his next one. In the fourth quarter of that year’s Super Bowl, Lynch tweeted a picture of his cleats hanging from a utility wire, with a “peace out” emoji. It was the quintessential Lynch retirement announcement – unspoken, enigmatic and quirky.
That retirement lasted a year. His second one, after two seasons with his hometown Oakland Raiders, lasted even less time. Those Seahawks still around from Lynch’s first Seattle stint – and that’s an ever-shrinking group that includes Wilson, Bobby Wagner, K.J. Wright and the injured Justin Britt – know exactly what else they’re getting.
Namely, the player who is revered as a consummate teammate. And whose fierce running style epitomized the alpha-male persona of those great Seattle teams. The Seahawks have tried hard to find a Lynch replacement, and after rifling through the likes of Thomas Rawls, Christine Michael, Eddie Lacy and Mike Davis, they seemed to have finally unearthed a reasonable facsimile in Carson.
But now Carson is out for the season with a hip injury, and Lynch is indeed on his way back. It’s to Carroll’s credit that he held no grudges over any distasteful aspects of Lynch’s tenure, while savoring his overwhelmingly positive legacy.
The return of Lynch will definitely bring a hard edge and maybe even some tension to the locker room and the field. But that’s hardly a bad thing, as long as it’s creative, and not antagonistic, tension. With Lynch, it always has been.
“He’s a guy that’s as selfless as they come, will go out there and put his body on the line for his teammates,” a Seahawks player said of Lynch in the aftermath of the Minnesota playoff game.
“That’s why guys don’t worry or stress about Marshawn not being here when he’s rehabbing or what he’s hurt or things like that. … We know that guy is one of the best teammates you would ever have, playing for any team, any level, any spot, and he will do whatever he can to help this team win.”
Whose words were those? Why, Richard Sherman, who will be wearing a 49ers uniform Sunday following his own discordant exit from Seattle, and will be trying to tackle Lynch.
What a weird turn of events. Yeah, it’s a Christmas miracle.
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