First there was Beast Quake.
And on Tuesday came Beast Quote.
No, it wasn’t anything earth-shaking, but Marshawn Lynch talked to the media. For six minutes and 21 seconds.
As were the rest of the Seattle Seahawks, the running back was compelled to appear at Super Bowl XLVIII media day, held this year at the Prudential Center, home of the New Jersey Devils NHL team.
Lynch had stiff-armed interviewers like on-rushing linebackers all season. And, even with the prospect of a six-figure fine looming if he failed to speak, some questioned whether he’d participate on the notorious freak show that is media day.
It seemed that Denver would have Knowshon Moreno, and Seattle might have No-Show Lynch.
But the reluctant orator showed up on time, although in an area behind a restraining fence rather than at a podium where he would be more exposed to the media.
With Seahawks hoodie pulled up and wearing sunglasses, he looked more like the Unabomber wanted-poster than one of the best running backs on the planet.
But he did the craziest thing. He answered questions.
He didn’t stay the fully recommended period of inquisition, but apparently it was enough to avoid further league penalty, which might have reached $100,000 given his previous interview transgressions.
It was probably longer than he’s spoken to the media all season – combined. He put thought into his answers, and he did not appear, as he often does during interviews, as if dealing with debilitating constipation.
When asked his feelings about media day, he looked at the fans in the stands, almost wistfully.
“Man, I appreciate this,” he said. “This is love right here, straight up. They came to watch people get interviewed. This is amazing right here, man.”
Yes, completely amazing.
Amazing that the Seahawks are in the Super Bowl, just four years after the arrival of coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider. Amazing that Lynch had been picked up for the bargain price of a pair of mid-round draft picks.
Amazing that his force of will fuels a running style that elevated the team’s expectations for effort from the first day he arrived.
And, yes, amazing that Lynch was standing there facing perhaps 100 or so media members jammed against a flimsy fence.
Addressing the media leaves him uninspired – a reluctance apparently overcome by the eagerness to save 100K.
“I’m just about action,” he said. “You say ‘hut’ and there’s action. All the unnecessary talk, it don’t do nothing for me. I appreciate that people want to hear from me, but I just go to work and do my thing. Do you feel me?”
Yes, Marshawn, I feel you. It was the best explanation we’ve ever heard for his being the laconic Lynch.
“My fans love me regardless,” he said. “They love the Seahawks. They aren’t worried about what I’ve got to say; they just want to make sure I show up to perform.”
I found a running back in the arena to assess for me just how Lynch goes about his job. Terrell Davis, a former Bronco who was named MVP of Super Bowl XXXII, called Lynch “The complete package.”
Davis likes his versatility – the power to run between the tackles, the speed to get out on the edge.
“What I really like is he gives you more than the play is giving. That’s the difference between good back and great backs,” Davis said. “It shows a lot of heart and drive and determination.”
Lynch doesn’t talk about his style much, but assures that he’s unsparing in his effort. “Every time I go on the field, boss, I give what I got. That’s just straight up.”
He spoke of his affinity for fullback Mike Robinson. “He plays with such passion; that’s something I can identify with. That’s my boy.”
And he let us inside a bit, when asked if he could recall the first time he thought about playing in a Super Bowl.
“It was probably the first time I told my momma I was going to play in the NFL,” he said. “I was young, probably Pop Warner (age). … I told her that. She remembered, though. She reminded me of it too. Yeah, she’ll be here (at the game).”
Players who have been to Super Bowls always look back and say they wished they’d enjoyed the moment. So Lynch was asked if he had been able to take in any of the spectacle of the Super Bowl.
“A little bit,” he said. “I won’t be satisfied with this until it’s all over. When we win, that’s when I’ll be satisfied. Until then, I’ve got work, but I appreciate all this.”
He gave a quick gesture, almost a salute, said “Y’all have a good day.”
And was gone.