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Seattle Seahawks

Marshawn Lynch dishes on strained relationships with Russell Wilson, Pete Carroll

Russell Wilson hands the ball off to Marshawn Lynch during the Seahawks’ 2015 NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers in Seattle.  (Getty Images)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – That the relationship between quarterback Russell Wilson and teammates during his 10 years with the Seattle Seahawks could be a little fraught – if not downright frosty – may not feel like breaking news at this point.

But the extent of that frostiness is even clearer as time passes and those who were involved speak their mind.

The latest example came this week when former running back Marshawn Lynch detailed his relationship with Wilson during an interview with former NFL player and Pro Football Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe on Sharpe’s “Club Shay Shay” podcast.

Lynch and Wilson were teammates in Seattle from 2012-15 and again briefly in 2019.

Lynch began by noting that, “I respect Russell as a player and a teammate. Anything I say because of the situation throwing a pick on the goal line (in the Super Bowl following the 2014 season) not giving me the ball, him leaving Seattle … anything I can say is going to come off as malice or as if I’m a hater. I’ll take Russ and I’ll put him right there at quarterback and I’ll rock with him, because I’ve done that.”

But when Sharpe pressed Lynch for details of his dealings with Wilson, Lynch revealed among other things that he never had Wilson’s phone number.

“Can’t pick up the phone or call old boy or nothing,” Lynch said.

Lynch reiterated what a few others have said, that in his view the team and coach Pete Carroll tried to protect Wilson from criticism, something Lynch felt helped break down the team’s togetherness and betrayed its “Always Compete” mantra.

“You’re kind of putting him on a pedestal or outside the box,” Lynch said. “And it’s like he doesn’t have to be accountable to the same (things) that we do. ”

Lynch also indicated he has a strained relationship with Carroll.

That’s apparently despite the team bringing him back for the end of 2019 season, something portrayed at the time as the two sides having mended all fences. Lynch also did some work with the team’s social media unit last season.

Lynch initially retired after the 2015 season, then after a year away he returned to play with the Raiders. After not signing with a team in 2019, he returned with the Seahawks for the final regular-season game and playoffs when injuries hit the running-back position.

“My relationship with Pete was interesting,” Lynch said. “I like Pete as a coach because he get (things) ready to go. That’s the truth. He’s the same way every day. He’s a great motivator in getting (things) ready. But it was just that I didn’t need that. I don’t think he understood where I was coming from.

“That kind of got us to head-butting a little bit for the misunderstanding.”

Lynch said the relationship wasn’t helped by the infamous decision to pass the ball at the 1-yard line at the end of Super Bowl XLIX against the New England Patriots.

Lynch had just run the ball from the 5-yard line to the 1-yard line on first down when Wilson threw a pass intended for Ricardo Lockette that was instead intercepted by Malcolm Butler.

Lynch said he “most definitely” believes that decision ended Seattle’s run as an elite team and that “they suffering from it still to this day.”

As for not having Wilson’s phone number, Lynch recalled an incident after a game against the Tennessee Titans, apparently referring to a 20-13 Seahawks win at home early in the 2013 season when he said Wilson hadn’t played as well as anticipated against what the Seahawks had considered a subpar Tennessee secondary.

Lynch said he wanted to boost Wilson’s spirits in the wake of the game and tell him that the team still “had his back,” but he had to ask a team staffer for Wilson’s number.

Lynch said a team staffer called him later to ask if Wilson had called him and he said he remembered he’d received a call from a blocked number.

“I don’t know how or why, but I just know I got a call from a blocked number,” Lynch said.

Lynch said he eventually made contact with Wilson. But in what Lynch said was his first attempt at a real meaningful talk with Wilson that Wilson responded negatively.

“So I told him again like, ‘Nah, bro, I’m here for you,’ ” Lynch said. “ ‘We gonna rock.’ And his response was the same.”

Lynch said of his reaction to their interaction: “Considering that (we’re) on the same team, going for the same goal and this is how you chose to respond to me, It was more so like, maybe you don’t understand what I’m saying?”

The conversation came after a game in which Wilson completed 23 of 31 passes for 257 yards and ran 10 times for 61 yards. In the fourth quarter, he recovered a fumble by Lynch at the Tennessee 2-yard line on a play in which a Titans defender was trying to pick up the ball and possibly run for a touchdown the other way before Wilson pounced on it.

Lynch that day rushed for 77 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries and caught four passes for 78 yards. For what it’s worth, Tennessee’s secondary that season allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the NFL – 15, one fewer than a Seattle defense that led the league in fewest points allowed.

Lynch said of his overall relationship with Carroll and Wilson that, “I didn’t (mess) with Pete” and that Wilson “was just a quarterback for me.”

Lynch was not among the players visible on the field when the 2013 Super Bowl champion team was honored Sept. 24 against Carolina, but he was shown in photos of other reunion events held that weekend posted on the team’s website.

Wilson was not present, quarterbacking the Denver Broncos that day in a 70-20 loss at Miami.