You know Marshawn Lynch right? Of course, Beast Mode? He’s a hard-hitting, leg-churning, Tasmanian devil who electrifies the Seahawks offense with his running back prowess. Duh. If you don’t know the guy, you’ll definitely remember the plays. His violent style and versatility out of the backfield have stymied defenses, awed crowds of thousands and created earthquakes at CenturyLink Field.
Everyone in the Pacific Northwest knows who he is but not very many people could give you a deeper answer than just calling him a running back in the National Football League. In an exclusive and rather eye-opening interview with ESPN, a rough-spoken, seldom heard and rather unfiltered Marshawn Lynch opened up about the person most of us will never know.
Read my commentary on the segment first, and then click on the link at the end of the column to watch the video and draw your own conclusions. There is a lot to converse about and take away from that goes beyond being a twelve minute television interview about a football player.
First off, the side accounts and commentary from other interviews were brief and exclusive. With his mother, his high school coach, Coach Pete Carroll and his cousin adding their two cents, you realize just how many people really know him and who he trusts. These select few added great tid-bits about the type of person he is, that I’m sure he would never be able to explain alone. This included his trouble with distractions off the field, his life mentality and especially his gift of running the ball. All of which are things that make up his character and persona we have grown to love so much but not understand where it came from.
Second of all, he keeps it real. Pretty darn simple. Never will you see another interview with so much realness and honesty. With slip-ups made off the field, he understood the negativity it brought down upon him. From my perspective, as I watched the interview, I began to feel like people get caught up in the saying that ‘money and fame change people’ when in reality, not having money and fame can change you too. I think Marshawn embodies that reality with a strong emotional tie to his home town and his attitude.
Marshawn goes fairly in-depth into his off the field mistakes that landed him in trouble with the law. He also aggressively attacked the idea that he is the proverbial ‘thug’ destined to be stereotyped by his home and his choices. Growing up in a severely impoverish area with very little resources, he posed a great philosophical question regarding how his critics would handle such adversity and then suddenly having their wildest dreams come true. What mistakes would they make, not knowing anything? I don’t believe it was a chance for him to make an excuse for driving under the influence or carrying a concealed weapon but rather a chance for him to reflect on his environment and how much it affected his life in ways we will never understand.
This brings us to the crucial point in the interview where we begin to see Marshawn for how down to earth he really is. With so much personal struggle combined with private blunders, he took a moment to describe a time when he had to face young kids at his youth camp after being in jail just hours before. I believe that moment he was describing was a true epiphany for the man we call Beast Mode. For a superstar athlete, he was having that surreal interjection of being forced to reflect inwards on his personal actions. That is never easy, yet he was able to realize that his mistakes are much bigger than just Oakland or football and that he is a role model looked up to by thousands of kids across the country whether he likes it or not. Everyday folk like you and I struggle to reflect inward when we need to and Marshawn wasn’t shy to share when he needed to put himself in check too.
He kept it real. Yes, Beast Mode is indeed, human too.
Thirdly, Seattle is his football home. For a guy that symbolizes the toughness and grit of his hometown of Oakland, we embraced him like he was our own homegrown Beast Mode. The way he describes having trouble adapting to the Buffalo Bills was truly interesting. Not once did he say he didn’t get enough playing time or that he couldn’t get along with the coaches or any other football issues instead all you hear about is how he didn’t like the weather. This was astonishing to me and it tells us viewers that this man is about family, lifestyle and happiness rather than big money his rushing numbers, winning or losing. We embrace that mindset because in the end, the states in the Pacific Northwest embody that same mentality! We are the place that rallies behind people who rally to us. His high school coach described him as the type of guy that if you give him your trust he will do anything for you. I believe the love we give him as fans and the hope we inspire in him to play well has made him a silent leader in the locker room and a runaway freight train on the football field. Without the region complimenting Marshawn’s attitude it’s hard to say where his pro career would be at this point.
So who really is this Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch guy? Got a new definition figured out yet?
The segment ends with a symbolic comparison of Marshawn’s life being embodied within the historic run he endured against the Saints in the 2011 playoffs. He described not seeing the light and having to keep his feet moving and never having the option of giving up. I applaud the genius in comparing the two but nevertheless, if you watch the video all the way through they also show a run from high school where he broke numerous tackles and squeezed out of defenders grasps in a similar fashion. So to say this lifelong metaphor for Beast Mode is found in that one playoff run would be a faulty misconception. The metaphor is much deeper than that. How uniquely Marshawn plays football is a metaphor for how we should never lose sight of who we are and what we can accomplish.
He never changed how he played – from those runs in high school to the NFL playoffs – and that should inspire us to always stay true to things that have stood true to us. Running the ball like he does has helped him find his way and in the end we should always persevere to find our way no matter how many metaphorical defenders there are trying to tackle us. By the end of the segment I took away the simple truth that we all love Marshawn Lynch for his mind-boggling acts on the field but now we should also embrace him because he really isn’t any different from ourselves.
YouTube Link to Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d3cWjT9lpZc#t=12