News this week that the Seahawks will not pursue reimbursement for a $5 million signing bonus given to retiring RB Marshawn Lynch explains at least a little, if not a lot, about why some peace has come to the Seahawks this off-season.
The club is unlikely to announce anything, but Ian Rapoport of the house organ NFL.com tweeted that the club won’t pursue the money they are entitled to if Lynch did not play to the end of his contract. The amount will count against the Seahawks 2016 salary cap.
Catching up on a things… don’t expect #Seahawks to ask for Marshawn Lynch’s $5M in signing bonus back. Both sides seem pleased with outcome
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 17, 2016
It helps explain why Lynch, who has been contentious with management over his compensation for the last few seasons, tweeted in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl that he was done, using an artful image of his cleats hung upon a wire to wordlessly symbolize the end of a spectacular career.
He kept $5 million likely by not being a beast.
Settling the matter quickly and amicably in front of the football world can only help both sides, particularly the Seahawks, who were publicly jerked around by Lynch at the end of his recovery from hernia surgery before the first playoff game at Minnesota.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told a radio audience the Friday before the game that Lynch would return following a good week of practice. But the night before, Lynch told teammates he wasn’t physically ready to play.
“Not surprised,” WR Doug Baldwin told reporters before a practice the following week in preparation for a trip to Charlotte. “He told us. I talked to him Thursday. He said he had to run on Friday morning with the trainers to see if he could deal with it.”
In football as well as most any business, it’s not good to make the boss look bad. In this case, Carroll appeared to be out of touch with what was going on. It was hardly the first time regarding Lynch, but is an image he dislikes severely.
Lynch severely dislikes, as Carroll put it a couple of years earlier, “being told what to do.” That dynamic created a fair amount of tension between player and coach/management. Ironically, it probably served the team well that Lynch shunned talking to local media, because he might have said something, oblique or direct, that lit a fire the team would have had to expend energy to put out.
Lynch finally played, of course, in the season’s clumsy finale, wherein the Seahawks fell behind the Panthers 31-0 by halftime, rendering moot the the running game. Lynch’s career ended weakly with 20 yards on six carries.
Absent a trite Hollywood ending, it was nevertheless remarkable that the Seahawks drew out the maximum from Lynch with a relatively small amount of drama. A hold-out here, a mid-game, middle-finger salute there, the threat of NFL fines ever-present, Lynch pushed the envelope but never burst through — one of the few things in Lynch’s life that such a thing can be said about.
The tight-rope walk done, appreciation of the majesty of Lynch’s feats can now take the spotlight. A fresh way appeared this week when former Seattle Post-Intelligencer colleague Ted Miller, now of ESPN.com, did a retro look at one of Lynch’s most memorable feats in college.
Lynch’s subsequent pro career overshadowed the event, but on Oct. 21, 2006, his Cal Bears beat Washington 31-24 in overtime in Berkeley. Lynch’s 22-yard touchdown run provided a lead in OT that was preserved with a final-play interception of Huskies backup QB Carl Bonnell (starter Isaiah Stanback was injured).
It was after the game that Lynch displayed his independent ways that would become a national hallmark. In celebration, Lynch jumped into a sideline cart and drove crazily and hilariously around the field, finally stopping in front of the student section for a salute.
Miller chronicled the episode through the words of teammates and coaches from both teams, which is an amusing read. But he also garnered glimpses from several who shed light on what an astonishing athlete Lynch was in college.
Zack Follett, Cal teammate and former NFL LB:
I remember we were all in the weight room during the summer and we were cleaning, trying to set the record at 315. We’re all doing it, struggling, some guys got it. Marshawn walks in. He’s in street clothes — jeans, his Jordans. He walks up to the bar, just straight out of class, throws his dreads back and cleans this thing, then throws it on the ground and walks out of the weight room. Like no warm-up. He’s just on another level.
Ron Gould, Cal running backs coach (1997-2011):
Pound for pound, he is the strongest human being I’ve ever seen.
Jeff Tedford, Cal coach, 2002-2012:
He could do everything. He could stand there and do a backflip. He could run with power. He could run with speed. He had unbelievable balance. He caught the ball as well as any receiver caught the ball. He had a good feel for running pass routes. Physical, fast, great balance, really sharp, smart guy. I can’t remember any mental mistakes that would stick out.
Desmond Bishop, Cal teammate, Washington Redskins LB:
During camp, tensions were flaring, and coach says, “OK, we’re going to go live. Let’s get it over with.” I’m such a competitor; I thought this was an opportunity to show them the defense runs the team. The first play, (Marshawn) got the ball and I read it perfectly. He came through the line, and I hit him as hard as I could — clean, but as hard as I could — and I just bounced off. I got up thinking that there was metal under his skin.
As Seahawks fans and the NFL will attest, Lynch’s abilities only intensified as a pro. He became as formidable an adversary as the NFL has seen, as genuine a teammate as any Seahawks player has experienced, and an occasional pain in the butt to club and NFL management.
A $5 million bonus? Oh, hell yes.