It took him going to Turkey to get Marshawn Lynch’s most extensive public words yet on the end of the Super Bowl?
Of course it did.
Seattle’s unique running back told a Turkish television network over the weekend that he was expecting the ball inside the 1-yard line with 26 seconds left and his Seahawks down to New England, 28-24, in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1.
Lynch also publicly raised the question of whether we were ready for him to be “the face of the nation” had he scored the title-winning touchdown. Instead, Lynch was essentially like the rest of us — a bystander — after the fateful decision by coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to have Russell Wilson throw a slant pass to fourth-string wide receiver Ricardo Lockette.
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No need to remind the Pacific Northwest that Malcolm Butler jumped the route like he knew it was coming and intercepted Wilson.
Lynch has been in Turkey with fellow Seahawk Cooper Helfet and NFL players DeAngelo Williams (who said last week he’d been released by the Carolina Panthers) and Gary Barnidge, conducting football camps as part of the American Football Without Barriers foundation. In a studio interview Lynch was asked by an anchor for NTV Spor television about the final play of Super Bowl 49.
“I would be a liar of I didn’t tell you I was expecting the ball,” Lynch said. “Yeah, I was expecting the ball.
“But … I had no problem with the decision.”
Lynch then referenced the notion the NFL Network reported some in the Seahawks locker room voiced that Super Bowl night: That Lynch scoring his second rushing touchdown of the game to win it all may not have been what everyone wanted.
“I think it was more of um, uh … how do I say this? Um… when you look at me and you let me run that ball in, I’m the face of the nation. The MVP of the Super Bowl. Pretty much the face of the nation at that point in time,” Lynch told NTV Spor. “I don’t know what went into that call. Maybe it was a good thing I didn’t get that ball.
“You know, it cost us the Super Bowl. I have full confidence in my teammates to execute that play. We’ve done it so many more times.
“But would I love to have had the ball there? Yeah, I would have.”
“I would have. But,” he said, throwing his hands up from the desk he was sitting behind, “game’s over. I’m in Turkey. What’s hangin’?”
Here’s the thing: Lynch wouldn’t have become the Super Bowl’s most valuable player even if he’d scored the winning touchdown.
League personnel had disseminated the ballots for voting on that award to select members of the media with six minutes left in the game. Seattle was leading 24-21 at the time, and wide receiver Chris Matthews (who had his first four catches, touchdown and 100-yard receiving day of his NFL career) was poised to become one of the most unlikely MVPs in Super Bowl history had the Seahawks won.
Tom Brady won the honor instead after New England rallied with two touchdowns in the final eight minutes.
As for what else Lynch said halfway across the globe while the Seahawks wait for his yay or nay on whether he is indeed going to play next season: The host asked Lynch why he was in his country as an NFL ambassador to the Turkish people.
“I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” Lynch said, smiling at his line at Super Bowl media day Jan. 27 in Phoenix.
Lynch likened the camps for youth in Turkey to the camps he runs for what he estimates are 850 kids each summer at Oakland Technical High School in his hometown of Oakland, California.
“This is an opportunity for me to come out and spread my brand, as well,” Lynch said of his “Beast Mode” line of clothing plus that “I’m just here so I don’t get fined” credo for which he recently applied for a patent.
Back in this country, the league’s Monday deadline for each team to identify franchise-tag players for this year passed without the Seahawks using theirs for 2015, as expected .
The biggest news in the league was who did not get a tag: Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. His salary would have been $26.9 million for 2015 had the Lions used theirs on him. Instead, he becomes a coveted free agent, one who may prove too expensive for the Seahawks. They need a defensive tackle but have many other priorities.
Some had wondered if Seattle might use its franchise tag to keep starting cornerback Byron Maxwell out of unrestricted free agency. But the one-year tender for using the tag on a cornerback this year is $13,075,000, far too expensive for what else the Seahawks need to do this offseason. That includes giving Lynch a new contract with more money up front — once and if the about-to-turn-29-year-old running back gives the team the go-ahead that he indeed wants to play this season — plus extending the rookie contracts of Wilson and All-Pro middle linebacker Bobby Wagner that expire after 2015 and signing free agents to potentially shore up the receiver and line positions.
The Seahawks have the following unrestricted free agents for this year:
Maxwell, guard James Carpenter, defensive tackle Kevin Williams, linebacker Heath Farwell (who may retire after season-ending groin tears last summer made him essentially a special-teams player-coach), safety Jeron Johnson, tight end Anthony McCoy, quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, long snapper Clint Gresham, defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs, linebacker Malcolm Smith, defensive end O’Brien Schofield, guard-center Steve Schilling, fullback Will Tukuafu, tight end Tony Moeaki, defensive tackle Landon Cohen and wide receiver-punt returner Bryan Walters.
Seattle’s restricted free agents (with the Seahawks having the right to first tender contracts to these players, then match any offer they may get) are: wide receivers Jermaine Kearse, Lockette and David Gilreath, linebacker Mike Morgan, safety DeShawn Shead and defensive tackle Greg Scruggs.
Schneider said he expects to be in the running to re-sign many of these free agents, though it sounds from him that the top one, Maxwell, is going to get a richer offer elsewhere than Seattle will be able to afford. The free-agent market opens March 10.
Also Monday teams learned from the league the salary cap for 2015 will start at $143.28 million per club. That’s up $10 million from last year, $20 million from 2013. The NFL Players Association reports the adjusted cap for the Seahawks will be $148,257,738.
Teams can carry over unused cap money from the previous year and apply it to the current cap, and Seattle has $5 million in carryover from 2014 to use in ’15. That’s the third-highest carryover of the four teams in the NFC West.