If there has been one unifying theme characterizing Lynch’s NFL career, it’s that he does things his way. There was nobody in the league that ran like him, nobody in the league that acted like him and certainly nobody in the league that crafted a public image like him.
Two thoughts on the timing of Marshawn Lynch’s retirement announcement.
The first: It wasn’t classy.
When the biggest sporting event in the country is in the final quarter of a one-score game, tweeting to the world that you’re hanging ’em up isn’t charming or eccentric — it’s self-serving. It essentially was Lynch saying, “Hey, 110 million people watching the Broncos and Panthers. Look at me instead!”
Alex Rodriguez pulled a similar stunt in 2007 when, during the eighth inning of the final World Series game, his agent revealed he would opt out of his contract with the Yankees. That was a calculated declaration, and make no mistake: Lynch’s was, too.
Which leads me to my second thought on the timing of Marshawn’s retirement announcement: It was perfect. Well, perfect for him, anyway.
If there has been one unifying theme characterizing Lynch’s NFL career, it’s that he does things his way and his way alone. There was nobody in the league that ran like him, nobody in the league that acted like him and certainly nobody in the league that crafted a public image like him.
There have been plenty of Russell Wilsons over the years — skilled frontmen who say all the right things and could win a mayoral election the second they retire. There have been plenty of Richard Shermans, too — brash alpha males who are despised by 31 fan bases but beloved by their own.
There have been locker-room jesters and chemistry killers — just like there have been hungry up-and-comers and aging former stars.
What was Lynch, though? What precedent has there been for a reticent, anti-authority megastar who, between clowning reporters and ticking off coaches, was charming a nation, galvanizing teammates and producing best-in-the-NFL numbers?
No, we haven’t seen an athlete quite like Beast Mode, and it could be a while before we see one like him again. If the sports world is the Matrix, he’s the anomaly.
Of course, how you view Lynch really depends on how you want to interpret the inkblot. It wouldn’t be unfair to dislike him.
This is a guy who refused to go to the locker room during halftime of a 2014 game at Kansas City, decided two days before the game that he wouldn’t play in Minnesota last month — and, subsequently, stayed home while his teammates battled in sub-zero weather. This is a guy who claims to abhor public attention but has no problem making appearances on “Conan” and “The League,” using the media to sell hats, or trademarking phrases such as, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”
Don’t get it twisted: Marshawn welcomes the notoriety when it benefits him. But when he has to endure annoying media sessions and the like, the I-don’t-want-the-attention-card has long been his golden ticket.
Having said that — it wouldn’t be unfair to love him, either. His teammates certainly do.
He was a bruiser playing the most physically taxing position in team sports at the highest level Seattle has seen. Whether it was Sherman acclaiming his effort, defensive end Cliff Avril lauding his unselfishness, or receiver Tyler Lockett mentioning how Lynch had advised him on his 401K plan, Seahawks players always were quick to praise No. 24 — partly because they knew he’d always be quick to praise them.
That’s probably why 12s from every direction spilled their adoration for Lynch on social media Sunday night. They know the Seahawks wouldn’t have a Super Bowl win without Beast Mode. They know, from a player standpoint, at least, he might have been the most crucial piece in resuscitating this organization. And they know they got to enjoy an athlete who was as fascinating off the field as he was mesmerizing on it.
Who knows if fans would have been accepting of Lynch’s ways had he stuck around a year longer. His antics were “quirky” when he was putting together 1,500-yard seasons but likely would have grown tiresome if he wasn’t producing.
That’s all speculation, though. On Sunday night, Lynch walked away from the game with his legacy intact.
Could he have announced his retirement more elegantly? Like a lot of things during his career, the answer is yes.
But Marshawn doesn’t care. And more significant, Seahawks fans don’t, either.