Sports

Dave Boling: Marshawn Lynch remains an enigma as holdout lengthens

Most of the Seahawks had headed for the cover of the cool locker room after a hot and tiring training camp session.

But a few remained on the field to get some extra work polishing their punt return skills.

Probably some of the rookies and free agents, right? Kids trying to impress the coaches? Fringe players hoping to make the roster via special teams?

Actually, this group included Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman and Percy Harvin— three Seahawks with five All-Pro honors to their credit.

These three have made their competitive bones at their primary positions — Thomas and Sherman in the secondary, Harvin as a receiver.

But each is so competitive and so intent on making the 2014 Seahawks better, they’re eager to find new ways to contribute.

All have big contracts, yet none has considered the possibility that returning punts is dangerous exposure to addition physical harm.

And at that very moment, running back Marshawn Lynch was … who knows?

Lynch, too, has a big contract in force. He’s entering the third year of a four-year deal that gave him a payday in the top five at his position. He has chosen to hold out of training camp in hopes of forcing the team into a contract upgrade.

The first five days cost him $30,000 in fines each day. And by not showing up Tuesday, the team was allowed to fine him 15 percent of his pro-rated signing bonus, or an estimated $225,000, lifting his debt into the $400,000 neighborhood.

In essence, on Tuesday, Lynch paid the Seahawks $225,000 to take the day off.

I know that the money in pro sports is so hard for many of us to fathom, but can’t you buy a house for $225,000? Don’t some hard-working families find a way to live on a year’s wages equal to the $30,000 that Lynch is going to have to fork over for every missed day?

All of us would rather skip work some days. But, jeez, this is extreme. So it is with just about everything associated with Lynch.

He’s an enigma wrapped in a paradox, and cloaked in silence … or a Lamborghini.

Nobody plays with such conspicuous love for the game, but he appears tempted to surrender his career.

He says he doesn’t like the spotlight but does a commercial for a local plumbing company in which he carries a commode in arms, and at one point reaches into a drain to pull out a toy football — the most disgusting fumble recovery in the history of the NFL.

He says he doesn’t like the attention, but appears naked in the ESPN “Body Issue.”

In the most important ways he’s the ultimate teammate, and yet sets himself apart.

He plays with such violent tenacity, that he uplifts the entire team … if not a significant portion of western Washington. And given his unwavering resolve to play with that intensity in light of a running back’s fleeting shelf life, it’s not unreasonable to think he deserves at least a face-saving gesture from the team.

But he’s only halfway into that contract that put him in the top five at his position.

General manager John Schneider told ESPN that for some years they’ve had plans in place to make the finances work to keep their best players. Part of those plans involved giving Lynch the big contract when they did, but not redoing it halfway through.

What would happen, then, when Thomas and Sherman and so many others feel they’re underpaid two years from now?

Coach Pete Carroll was asked the daily Lynch question, in the context of Tuesday being the day when his absence starts taking beastly chunks out of Lynch’s signing bonus.

“I love this kid and I hope he’ll figure it out and it will all make sense and it will come to a resolution somewhere,” he said.

It’s hard to tell when a workhorse running back is about to hit the inevitable greased chute to retirement. But it’s clear, at some point, Lynch’s productivity will no longer supersede the theater he creates. And that point might be reached sooner as the distraction increases.

The beauty and challenge of Lynch lies in his free spirit and unpredictability.

And this current tumult carries almost any range of conceivable outcomes, from his abrupt retirement to his showing up ready to perform at the highest level.

He’s a man of extremes, out on the edges, going full speed. It’s just hard to predict which direction.

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