Marshawn Lynch is no longer with the Seahawks, but he is not entirely gone. Does he still mean something? We spoke with some of his former teammates and they shared their favorite Lynch stories.
This all started inside a modest apartment in Flint, Mich. That’s where Thomas Rawls’ mom, Deadra Whitley, told the first Marshawn Lynch story.
The first time she met Lynch, she kept reminding herself to keep it together. She hugged him, told herself not to squeeze so tight, then asked for a second hug. She told Lynch he could call her Dee; he refused.
“I’m calling you Momma,” he said.
But that’s not the best part of the story. After the Seahawks signed Rawls as an undrafted free agent, she kept asking if he’d seen Marshawn. When Lynch arrived, he didn’t say anything. Just watched.
Finally, he came up to Rawls. “I see it in you,” he said.
When Deadra surprised Rawls with a visit later that year, Lynch told her not to worry about her son, whom she calls Ty.
“The way he talked about Ty, as a parent, I was just so blown away with how he embraced him,” she said. “He really wanted to help him. He saw something in him. People are cheated when they don’t get to meet him on a real level.”
Lynch is no longer with the Seahawks, but he is not entirely gone, either. He keeps popping up. I’ll explain what I mean after one more story.
A few weeks after Deadra Whitley told her Lynch story, former Seahawks receiver Ricardo Lockette told his. Both were unprompted.
Lockette’s story started in a hospital room in Dallas on the day his football career ended. He couldn’t move his neck. Offensive lineman Russell Okung was on his right, Lynch on his left. Lynch made Lockette laugh so hard that Lockette eventually told him: “Bro, you’re going to kill me! I haven’t had surgery yet.”
“He just told me, ‘Don’t be in here crying,’” Lockette said. “’Don’t be doing all that crying because Beast Mode don’t cry, and if you cry, I’m going to cry.’ I can visually picture that. I enjoyed that.”
So I wondered if players in the Seahawks’ locker room also had Lynch stories. Did he still mean something even in retirement? I told every player I talked to what I’d heard from Deadra Whitley and Ricardo Lockette and asked if anything came to mind. That’s all.
This is what they said.
Defensive end Cliff Avril
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“It’s not even a football thing. Knowing that I’m Haitian, he actually put me in contact with the people he’s been working with who go around the world and build schools. He put me in contact with them and told me if there was anything I needed as far as building a school or his support, he was all in. And he has definitely been all in. He has been to both trips that my foundation has taken to Haiti to build a school, and he has also pledged to help me build a classroom for the school. We were just casually talking about our foundations one day and I said, ‘One day I’d like to build a school.’ When the opportunity presented itself with him, the first person he thought of was me. He introduced me, and for him to even think about me was pretty cool. We’ll go on these trips and we’ll talk to the people handling the school, and he wanders off and is playing football and soccer with the kids.”
Linebacker Bobby Wagner
“As a rookie, you kind of go too hard at practice. He came to the defensive huddle and told me I was going too hard and really was getting in my face. And then after practice, he came up to me and was like: ‘Don’t stop doing what you’re doing. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you could be really good in this league.’ It was a test to see if I was going to back down. Ever since that point, he’s always been on me: ‘Don’t be like the other linebackers.’ He played against Ray Lewis and all those guys, and he was trying to say the linebackers now are going away from that. He was always putting it in my head, ‘Don’t be like everyone else.’”
Center Justin Britt
“Any time I see Marshawn, he always asks how my kids are doing. He was always there at my daughter’s birthday parties. That meant a lot. She doesn’t know what’s going on, but it meant a lot to me that he cared enough about his offensive lineman’s family to show up to the party. He didn’t have to. I didn’t beg him or anything. Just invited him. But he went out of his way to show up, and he always asks how my family is doing.”
Offensive tackle Garry Gilliam
“It was last year, toward the beginning of the year, when we weren’t doing so well. It was before one of our Saturday meetings before a game. I was there, Russell Okung was there, and Marshawn was there, and they were talking. I went up to him, and I forget exactly what we were talking about, but he was talking about his mentality and how he goes into a game. … He was like, ‘You just have to say (expletive) them, (expletive) everything they stand for. You go out there and impose your will on them. Just be that person. It doesn’t matter what they’re doing, who they are, what they are. Just (expletive) them and go do it. Go beat their (expletive).’ Honestly, I was like, ‘You’re right.’ When he plays, you can see that. He doesn’t care what’s going on, who it is, what it is, if the play is broken down. He’s just like, ‘(expletive) him. I’m about to go handle my business.’”
Punter Jon Ryan
“It was after a game where Marshawn had like 30 carries, a ton of touches, and he got beat up. I was in a restaurant with my mother, and him and his uncle and a friend came and sat down. It was a totally quiet restaurant. No one else was in there. My mom was like, ‘Can you introduce me to Marshawn?’ I was like: ‘It’s no problem. He’s beat up, he doesn’t want to talk right now, but he obviously will want to meet you really quickly.’ So I went over and said: ‘Marshawn, this is my mom. She just wanted to meet you.’ And I kind of wanted to leave him alone. But Marshawn sat there and talked to her for a half hour. After that, probably once a month for the next three years, Marshawn asked how my mom was doing.”
Receiver Doug Baldwin
“My first week here, we were outside on the field, and I was talking to Justin Forsett. I kind of knew Justin a little bit, so we were talking about Stanford. He brings Marshawn over and goes, ‘He’s a Stanford kid.’ And Marshawn goes, ‘Maaaaan, (expletive) Stanford.’ And that was my introduction to Marshawn. He wasn’t trying to be negative or anything. He was trying to set the tone. He even said to me: ‘I don’t care where you went. Show me what you got on this field.’ It wasn’t like him trying to big time a rookie. He was saying, ‘Don’t take this for granted.’ That’s what I took away from it, and I just remember every day I came out there, I would look at Marshawn and see him getting into his mode, playing his loud music. It inspired me to go out there and do the same thing.”
Remember how this started? One of the first Lynch stories was from Lockette in a Dallas hospital room. But even Lockette didn’t know the full story.
“We were in there with Ricardo and everything was in a sad mode,” said Earl Lockette Sr., Ricardo’s dad. “A nurse comes up and says, ‘We don’t know much about football, Mr. Lockette, but there’s a guy outside who says he needs to be in here. He says he plays with Ricardo, and his name is Marshawn Lynch.’ I go to the lobby, and Marshawn has his bags. He said, ‘I knew it was more than what they told me when I saw him go down. I knew it was more severe than that and I could not leave him here.’
“What Ricardo didn’t know is that Marshawn peeked in the room and saw he was in there, in the bed, strapped down, couldn’t move, and he cried like a baby. Marshawn did. I won’t tell you everything he did, but he took a couple steps back and soaked those tears up, and he went in there and made my son feel like he could run and jump.
“And then on top of that, we didn’t know nothing about nothing. He asked us, ‘How long are you guys going to be here?’ We said, ‘We don’t know. Until he gets up and walks again, we’re not leaving.’ He said” ‘I’ve got you guys. You don’t have to worry about anything.’ When I say he meant that, he really did. He took care of us for a period of time to make sure we didn’t have to worry about getting places, transportation, anything. He did that.”
Lockette’s family sat in that hospital room sad and afraid. They didn’t know what was going to happen to their son. He had never looked so vulnerable. But then here came Lynch, cackling and making jokes, and the Lockettes swear the mood in the room changed, which leads to one final story.
“There was a male nurse,” Earl Lockette Sr. said. “You remember the movie with the Fockers? Marshawn would call the male nurse that. I think it was Gaylord, right? He’d say, ‘Hey, Gaylord!’ He kept calling him that, and we didn’t know what he was talking about. He was like, ‘You know, Gaylord Focker!’ The male nurse was even laughing. He lifted everybody’s spirits. He made us forget the situation we were in. He would not leave until after Ricardo’s surgery, and we just thought it was beautiful for him to do that.”