OK, I was wrong: Missed OTAs won’t affect Lynch’s game

OlympianMay 26, 2014 

An unofficial rule of thumb for columnists: It’s always beneficial to remind the readers when you were right about something, but you don’t need to revisit your blunders because they so delight in doing that on their own.

But considering the Seattle Seahawks start their organized training activities this week, it’s timely to recall that I totally gacked on a column last spring when I questioned Marshawn Lynch’s absence from the early OTAs.

Everybody could see that the 2013 Seahawks had the chance to be special.

They had gone 11-5 in 2012, finishing with a hot streak that included a road playoff win against the Washington Redskins and a narrow loss to the Atlanta Falcons in a game that would have given them a shot at the NFC championship.

So much was at stake last spring — perhaps even an elusive Super Bowl trip — that it seemed important that everybody be on hand for the start of these workouts.

I thought it was particularly important for Lynch. After all, he’d just signed a contract that called for some $7million salary annually.

Given his running style, it seemed unlikely, but I wondered if his absence suggested he might turn into one of those backs who started avoiding contact once the money was in the bank.

He was under contract, I reasoned, so he should be in attendance. How much could be gained in terms of offensive timing and synchronization if the workhorse running back wasn’t there?

In retrospect, I was a, uh, what’s the word? Knucklehead? Alarmist?

I still think I was right in theory, being respectful of the obligations inherent in being under contract and part of a team.

But I was so very wrong to worry about the consequences.

In case you missed it, the Seahawks ended up doing pretty well without Lynch’s involvement in the early OTAs.

He showed up a little later and in great shape, and when it counted, he never once displayed the kind of survival instincts that can cause an aging back to lose his edge.

All season, Lynch was every bit as willing to bulldoze defenders, absorbing a ridiculous pounding on each carry in the attempt to fight for an inch of property.

Some facts are unavoidable, though. He recently turned 28, an age when NFL running backs typically start considering their career mortality.

Lynch has touched the ball, rushing and receiving, more than 1,100 times during the regular season and playoffs the past three years.

He has more than 2,600 career touches. Former Seahawk Shaun Alexander coaxed 2,634 out of his career — only a game or two’s action more than Lynch already has.

And Alexander ran with a style that tended to avoid contact, whereas Lynch’s die-hard style surely doubles or triples the physical toll of each carry.

The Seahawks drafted running backs Robert Turbin in 2012 and Christine Michael in 2013. They were brought on for depth in the short term, but perhaps as Lynch’s eventual — inevitable — long-term replacements.

Having chosen to not participate in the White House visit with the team last week, Lynch reinforced his dislike of the spotlight. Even President Barack Obama joked about Lynch’s uncomfortable relationship with the media.

Fair to wonder if the different drummer he follows will at some point lead him away from the game altogether, to a place where a league doesn’t require him to surrender some of the privacy he so obviously treasures.

We’ll see on Tuesday whether he makes it to the first OTA session.

Either way, I’ve learned my lesson on judging Lynch too harshly on the matter of attendance. He and the Seahawks will do just fine during the regular season and playoffs, regardless of whether he shows up to workouts in May.

Dave Boling: 253-597-8440 dave.boling@ thenewstribune.com @DaveBoling

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