You have to admit that this process has been strange. You have to acknowledge that Marshawn Lynch is handled differently, too. But you probably also have to agree that Pete Carroll checking his own ego is the best way to nurture Marshawn’s.
I tried to ask the question delicately, but there might not be a delicate way to ask it.
I see the Seahawks paying $12 million to a running back this season, yet they have virtually no hand in his rehab or say in whether he returns to the field.
So I put it out there to Pete Carroll, because this was hardly the first time the thought crossed my mind.
“From the outside looking in, it seems like there’s the way everyone else is handled, and then the way Marshawn is handled,” I said. “Am I mistaken in assuming that?”
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Carroll hasn’t addressed that question this season, even if fans and media members have long wondered the same thing. We all know Marshawn Lynch is a different kind of dude, but is he treated differently, too?
To Carroll’s credit, he didn’t flinch at the inquiry. I’m just not sure he answered it, either.
“I think we’ve had a long run together. It’s been a really good relationship of getting through it and helping him be the best he can be,” Carroll said. “He’s a remarkable football player. So we continue to work with him to make sure that we’re helping him in every way that we can.”
All in all, Pete’s response was 114 words long. None of those words, however, happened to be “no.”
Lynch has marched to the beats of his own subwoofer since he arrived in Seattle, and it doesn’t seem that Carroll has done much to interfere. But once again to the head coach’s credit — that’s probably smart.
It’s no secret that professional sports is a breeding ground for jealousy. Athletes see a peer getting more attention or making more money than them and start seething as a result.
So you’d think Lynch leaving the team to rehab in Oakland would peeve some teammates who might not have the same freedom, right? Well, I asked them if it did.
This time, the word “no” was used often.
“(The team is) good with it,” said cornerback Richard Sherman. “We know when that guy comes in the building and he gets on the field, there’s nobody like him. There’s nobody who’s giving more effort, who’s going to sacrifice more for the team.”
“You pop the film on or watch a Seattle Seahawks game, and you see how hard that man runs and how nobody can stop him,” linebacker Bobby Wagner added. “You have to respect that.”
Veterans are adept at giving complimentary answers to questions about teammates even if they don’t believe them. But it’s strikingly clear the Seahawks revere Lynch no matter how unconventional his tactics might be.
No position in team sports takes more punishment than NFL running back, and no running back absorbs that punishment quite like Beast Mode. It’s one thing to be productive. It’s another to be productive while serving as a human bruise collector.
Besides, even if Lynch comes off as the NFL’s ultimate anti-authority figure, he’s never been accused of being anti-team. Whether it’s advising Tyler Lockett on his 401(k), waking up the offense with an impassioned pep talk, or, as running back Fred Jackson said, being “the kind of guy that would come help you change a tire,” Marshawn has the support of the locker room — even if he goes weeks without stepping in it.
So perhaps it’s smart of Carroll not to interfere. Perhaps it’s wise to take the high road when Lynch wears Kam Chancellor’s jersey in practice during his holdout, mocks the goal-line decision from the Super Bowl last year via an appearance on “The League,” or decides against joining the team at halftime in Kansas City.
And perhaps it’s necessary to trust a couple of MMA trainers with your $12 million running back’s rehab.
You have to admit that this process has been strange. You have to acknowledge that Lynch is handled differently, too. But you probably also have to agree that Carroll checking his own ego is the best way to nurture Marshawn’s.
Pete doesn’t have to like it, but there might not be a better option.
As defenses across the NFL have learned — bad things happen when you get in Lynch’s way.