Marshawn Lynch Signals He’s Leaving, but He’s Likely to Linger in Fans’ Minds

Courtesy of the N.Y. Times:

It is not easy to make news in the middle of the Super Bowl, but Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch managed to. At 9:46 p.m. Eastern on Sunday, early in the fourth quarter of the game, Lynch posted a photograph on his Twitter account of football shoes hanging from a telephone wire. It was a subtle but clear message that he had chosen to end his football career at age 29.

By Monday evening, the message had been retweeted nearly 200,000 times.

After three outstanding years at California, Lynch was drafted No. 12 over all by the Buffalo Bills in 2007. He surpassed 1,000 rushing yards in each of his first two seasons, but after a suspension for having a gun in the trunk of his car, he lost his starting job. He was traded to the Seahawks in 2010 for two middle-round draft picks.

It proved a great trade for Seattle. Lynch rushed for more than 1,200 yards in each of his first four full seasons with the Seahawks and led the N.F.L. in rushing touchdowns in 2013 and 2014. A one-time Pro Bowler with Buffalo, he was selected for the game four more times with Seattle.

Expected to be a key player in last year’s Super Bowl against the New England Patriots, Lynch delivered, running for a game-high 102 yards and a touchdown. But with the game on the line and the Seahawks at the Patriots’ 1-yard line, Seattle opted for a pass play, baffling many fans who had expected Lynch to run the ball in. The play ended with a game-sealing interception.

An abdominal injury slowed Lynch this season, and he did not play in a regular-season game after Nov. 15. He returned for the divisional round of the playoffs but had only six carries in a loss to Carolina.

Mere numbers do not illustrate how memorable a player Lynch was. His less colorful nickname was Money. But the expression more commonly associated with him was Beast Mode.

To Lynch, the name went beyond the world of football.

“If you are in your everyday life and you feel like you just accomplished something big that you had going on, then that’s Beast Mode,” he told SB Nation in 2014. “It’s an accomplishment, that you put yourself through something to get something better out of it. I feel that that’s Beast Mode.”

Even his runs had nicknames. In January 2011, in a playoff victory over the New Orleans Saints, then the defending Super Bowl champions, Lynch rumbled for a 67-yard score, breaking several tackles. The run became known as the Beast Quake amid reports that the roar from the Seattle crowd had set off seismographs in the Pacific Northwest.

Lynch was also known for his somewhat incongruous choice of sideline snack: Skittles.

Seldom one to enjoy an interview, Lynch amused fans, and even some reporters, on the media day for last year’s Super Bowl by answering every question with “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.” Perhaps the spirit of Lynch was present after Sunday’s Super Bowl when the losing quarterback, Cam Newton, gave a series of terse answers of his own.

Lynch’s days of triggering fines and media scrums — and bashing the ball into the end zone — may be over. But his personality and his style of play will not soon be forgotten.