Comebacks in sports have a dubious record. But if Tiger Woods can win the Masters at 43 after all that he’s been through, Marshawn Lynch at 33 should be able to get a yard or two.
Even at second and goal at the one-yard line.
If you thought Sunday night’s game between the 11-4 Seahawks and 12-3 49ers on national TV already was going to be amped, the Northwest can be taken off Grand Coulee Dam’s electrical grid for three hours and the extension cord can be plugged into the Clink.
Feel free to grab your crotch in public. Hey, aren’t warm feelings what Christmas is about?
Beast Mode is back in Seattle.
Whether he’s in best mode awaits the game. But he’s more rested and ready than Chris Carson, Rashaad Penny and C.J. Prosise, the three veteran running backs all wiped out for the season with December injuries.
A free-agent contract was signed Monday night, completing a whirlwind 24 hours that included flights, physicals and negotiations, as well as the signing of another veteran free agent, Robert Turbin, who was Lynch’s backfield sidekick in Seattle from 2012-14.
— Doug Hendrickson (@DHendrickson41) December 24, 2019
Monday morning, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stunned the radio audience for his weekly ESPN 710 show by confirming what leaked a couple hours earlier: Lynch, if he passed a physical, would be hired.
Lynch hasn’t played in 2019; in fact, the last time he was ’bout that action, boss, was Oct. 14, 2018, when the Seahawks beat the Oakland Raiders in London. He damaged a groin muscle, went on injured reserve and became an unrestricted free agent because he never filed retirement paperwork.
No one actually can know what’s left in his tank for Sunday’s brutalities. Hell, how can even he know?
He’s never been 33 after a long layoff before. But just the idea of a Lynch return has helped lift the gloom over VMAC that settled in after a grim 27-13 home loss to a mediocre Arizona team playing for a half with its backup quarterback.
It certainly elevated the mood of Carroll, who was as energized over the Lynch hire as he was despairing over how poorly his team played over the final 55 minutes.
“I’m fired up for it,” he said. “He’s got some hoops to jump through here, the physical and stuff like that. He’s been working really hard. He’s excited about the chance to help out. I think it’s looking great . . . From what we understand he’s in really good shape.
“If he can get out there and tote the ball for us, he could have four or five games left in him. Maybe that’s what we need.”
What the Seahawks need is a badass. Lynch is the epitome of badassery.
In his prime time from 2010 to 2015, his ferocity and power symbolized the Seahawks. They’ve won a lot of games since he left, but it’s never been the same.
Most of the current Seahawks were in college, or even high school, when Lynch thrashed across the fruited plain. His only remaining teammates are Russell Wilson, Luke Willson, Tyler Lockett, Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright. They will explain to the newbies what Carroll knows.
“There’s nobody who ever amplified the kind of mentality and toughness that we like to play with,” he said. “If we get a chance to get the Beast on the field, we’ll see how that works out.
“He’s been working really hard.”
It sounded as if Seahawks general manager John Schneider had been considering Lynch for some time.
“John is always on the options,” Carroll said. “He’s been connected with this one, just in case, for a long enough time so we have some runway for it. (Lynch) had plenty of time to keep working in case something came up.”
According to this NFL.com story posted Monday night, Lynch’s quiet visit two weeks ago to team headquarters was more than saying hello.
“We went ‘hood’ on preparation.”
Inside Marshawn Lynch’s secret workouts with his longtime coach @tareqazim, who basically beat the hell out of him for 2 weeks after a visit to #Seahawks HQ made #BeastMode believe this unlikely reunion could happen. https://t.co/nbG3QSICeB
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 24, 2019
The most remarkable aspect of Lynch’s return is that Carroll was willing to embrace it.
Tensions between coach and player were obvious as time went on, and seemed to climax in early 2016 when Lynch surprised everyone when he declined to go with the team for a playoff game in Minnesota after spending the week at practice as a full participant.
Carroll was said to have been fried. Obviously, he got over it, to the point Monday of seeming to accept Lynch’s anti-hero persona, a change that had to have happened well before now.
“We have communicated over time, stayed in touch some,” he said. “I knew it was a big dream for him to go to Oakland, back home, to end his career where he could be connected to his community.
“My relationship was fun, for the most part. There were some hard times. He challenged the system so much, on so many different aspects, with the media and those things. He was hard on the regular routine of this job, in some regards. But he always played hard, and I loved the spirit and toughness that he brought.”
Carroll sometimes abuses the word unique, saying someone is “very” or “really” unique. No. “Unique” requires no modifiers for emphasis. Lynch is, in the experiences of everyone, including me, who were around him, unique. He caused unique problems requiring unique workarounds that were worth it in order to have his unique influence on the outcomes of games.
And unique people sometimes wear out the rest of us.
Yet he was such a powerful, relentless player on the field that the entire warrior class in the NFL held him in highest regard.
That respect accorded him latitude to be anti-authority. His teammates loved him for it — he was the kid in class who got away with everything because he was so smart and talented, the teacher was secretly proud — yet Carroll, as with any coach, had order to maintain. Lynch tested the edges.
“He’s a very charismatic persona and player,” Carroll said. “He affected a lot of people and his program in a big way. If there was anything that was bothering me, I found a way to deal with it. Because he was being him.
“He was being the epitome of guys living this football life being the way they are. He found a way to fit in with us to make it work.”
Carroll deserves credit for taking on Lynch from Buffalo, managing their relationship as far as he could take it, then this weekend sublimating his own apprehension to reach out for a solution to a personnel crisis.
“I didn’t know him that well, whether he’d fit or not,” Carroll said, referring to the 2010 trade from Buffalo that took Schneider three months to pull off. “I just knew his style and mentality from playing against him. I hoped he could be the bell cow to lead the charge to something we were building here.”
Now the emergency klaxon has gone off. On the face of it, it’s absurd to think that Lynch can do a lot after such a long layoff from a collision sport, particularly behind an eroding offensive line against the 49ers’ aggressive front seven.
Of course, that’s exactly what Carroll hopes the 49ers will think.
— Kate O’Hare (@KateOHareWrites) December 24, 2019
“We’ll keep our fingers crossed that it works out,” he said. “He’ll have a blast playing with this team. He loves this city, playing here, and would love to contribute.”
The surprising signing at least it blows the stink off the Arizona game, and sets up a national all-you-can-eat feast to conclude the NFL’s regular season.
Speaking of the pending madhouse, the Cardinals’ All-Person WR Larry Fitzgerald talked after the game about how significant it was to win a game at the Clink.
“This place is special,” he said. “I think this is the greatest home-field experience of any place in the NFL. I’ve played everywhere, and there is nothing like this place when they are playing well. They make it difficult to win here every time.”
If Lynch, in all his unique dudeness, does contribute to a Seahawks triumph, make sure all your electrical devices are on surge protectors.