Beastmode, as Marshawn Lynch put it, was a lifestyle.
It also defined an era of Seahawks football that can still be felt today, three seasons after his departure from Seattle.
Marshawn Lynch decided to officially hang up his cleats this time, no not in the fashion he did in 2016 when posting this infamous tweet. The 33-year-old power-back is calling it a career.
The goal of this article is not to regurgitate his career statistics for you to go “huh, cool!” You can go here for that. Lynch’s real value was the impact he made on Pete Carroll’s philosophical approach to coaching and the Seahawks. How he established the foundation of the underdog Seahawks and finally, how he defined an era.
Where it all started
The Buffalo Bills traded Marshawn Lynch after three seasons in Buffalo opting instead to go with C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson. They would receive a fourth and seventh-round pick in return from Seattle. In 2010, Head Coach Pete Carroll & General Manager John Schneider were just beginning to lay the foundation of what would be a team made up of cast-offs, outcasts and a multitude of players with chips on their shoulders.
Carroll or Schneider didn’t know it at the time but Lynch would be the heart and soul of the attitude they were curating in the Pacific Northwest. 2010 is longer ago than people remember; this was pre-Russell Wilson, Richard Sherman, Doug Baldwin, Michael Bennett, Bobby Wagner, and Cliff Avril.
Earl Thomas was the shining star on defence as a rookie and Kam Chancellor was learning in the shadows behind veteran safety, Lawyer Milloy. Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst were trading reps under center and the Seahawks were coming off of 4-12 and 5-11 seasons in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The Seahawks were embarking on the most fruitful era in franchise history and no one had a clue. And it started by going 7-9 in 2010 and upsetting the defending champion New Orleans Saints. (Due to NFL copyright issues I can’t embed the touchdown run against the Saints but you can find the video here).
The Legend Grows
The Seahawks jumped out to a slow start in 2011, post-beastquake. Throughout the first half of the season, Seattle mustered just a 2-6 record. The run game was struggling as well. Through the first eight weeks, Lynch managed just 263 yards and three touchdowns. However, the final nine weeks would see Lynch go for 941 yards and nine touchdowns. Despite a 7-9 finish in 2011 and missing the playoffs, the Seahawks established their identity.
Speaking of identity
2011 was just Carroll’s second season as head coach for the Seahawks. He was churning through player transactions trying to find the right pieces that fit his vision for the team. You can find more on Carroll’s philosophy here. At this juncture, however, the Seahawks needed a leader.
Lynch was a man of few words (more on that later). It’s cliche but Lynch let his play do the talking. Turning one-yard losses into five-yard gains and broken plays into touchdowns. Ironically enough, Lynch and Carroll philosophically clashed as Lynch would let it be known in an interview last year with Matt Barnes.
“I mean, for a lot of people, Pete Carroll is that guy, he is that type of coach…But when you just a muhfucka who’s hard-nosed, straight to the grind, don’t give me no bullshit and let me play ball and let me go, you have a little bit of turmoil,” Lynch explained. “Pete Carroll is a rah-rah guy, and I’m just somebody who’s like, ‘Tell me what I need to do, where I need to do it, how I need to handle it, and I’ma get that job done but don’t give me no extra bullshit.”
But this contrast is and constant tension is what fueled Seattle. Carroll was open in allowing his players to express their feelings in an open forum. For better or worse, the players had their voices heard. Walking the line of tension and chaos is no easy task but it’s what made the Seahawks so unique compared to any other NFL team.
You know what? I’m going to let Kurt Russell take it away here while I go grab some refreshments.
Does anyone want to start a petition to let Kurt Russell do all team intros going forward?
Battles with the media
While NFL fans, pundits and official accounts have all rushed to congratulate Lynch on his stellar career (and maybe a hall of fame one), it wasn’t long ago when those same people, analysts and media outlets were ostracizing him because of who he was. There is no definitive moment that led to Lynch’s strained relationship with the media, it became more clear as the seasons went by that we were not interested in speaking with them.
Though it made for some great quotables it also opened Marshawn up to public and media ridicule for choosing not to speak. For better or worse, Lynch preferred to let his actions do the talking on and off the field.
2nd & Goal on the one
Of course, no tribute article is complete without including the entire story. By now everyone knows, 2nd & goal, 26 seconds left and the Seahawks are on the one-yard line. Super Bowl 49, versus the New England Patriots, down by four. For very valid reasons, Carroll and offensive coordinator elected to pass due to the time left on the clock and having just one timeout.
While many will grapple (and ridicule) Carroll and the staff for not running, it’s an important chapter in the Lynch era as nothing would be the same going forward. Lynch played sparingly in the 2015 season battling a sports hernia and during Super Bowl 50, Lynch abruptly “retired” from football. His time in Seattle was over.
Thank you, Marshawn
Many will point to the failed title defence in 2014 as the summary or shining point in Lynch’s time with Seattle and that should be the furthest thing from the truth. Lynch defined an attitude, identity and philosophy of Seattle football. The NFL will greatly miss his presence. And regardless of their differing traits, Carroll and Marshawn Lynch have each other to thank for ushering in such a prosperous era of Seahawks football.
Best of luck in retirement, Marshawn. You can find more on his off-field work right here at Fam 1st Family Foundation.
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