Seattle Seahawks

The Marshawn Lynch his Seahawks teammates know differs from public persona

You see crotch grabs in the end zone.

The Seattle Seahawks simply see that Marshawn Lynch is in the end zone.

They’ve seen him there an NFL-leading 18 times this season. The Seahawks also see 1,522 yards for the league’s No. 1 rushing offense — plus a joking, playful, caring confidant, supporter and friend.

They see a guy who flies inner-city children from his hometown of Oakland and turns them into thrilled, wide-eyed visitors to the team’s headquarters in Renton on days before home games.

“He’s definitely a great teammate,” Seattle safety Kam Chancellor said Monday, “and a great man.”

No, the Marshawn Lynch the Seahawks know is not the polarizing one the rest of America sees and hears.

Every Super Bowl has controversy; the New England Patriots spent their Monday arrival press conference here trying to put deflated balls behind them.

And every Super Bowl has a bad guy.

For this one, it is Lynch. Just as it was at the last one.

“Yeah, I think a lot of people misunderstand Marshawn,” Chancellor said at the Arizona Grand Hotel following the Seahawks’ first practice of Super Bowl week at Arizona State University. “Just because he doesn’t want to talk to the media doesn’t make him a bad guy.

“He’s not a bad person because he doesn’t want to talk to the media. You can’t punish a guy for not wanting to talk to the media.

“I don’t understand it,” Chancellor concluded.

The Seahawks know he is a huge key to winning their second consecutive Super Bowl. They got here behind his power running. It sets up Russell Wilson’s read-option runs and play-action passes. Lynch had just 30 yards at halftime of the NFC title game, and Green Bay led 16-0. He had 127 yards after halftime — and Seattle outscored the Packers, 28-6.

They know if he’s plowing early, adding to his league-leading yardage after contact this season, the Patriots’ defense will have to commit even more than they already will to stopping him. And the rest of the Seahawks’ offense will benefit. They know his bullish, repeated running wears down defenses in the second halves, which Seattle has mostly owned in games of the last two seasons.

The nation? It knows Lynch, 28, as the running back the league has fined a total of $131,050 this season: $100,000 for not talking to the media in the locker room immediately following the Nov. 16 loss at Kansas City, $11,050 for grabbing his crotch as he dived back-first into the end zone to end his memorable touchdown run last month at Arizona and $20,000 for doing the same grab as he jogged in for the score that put Seattle up late in regulation of the NFC title game.

The NFL has its sanctioning eyes all over Lynch during Super Bowl week. There have been talks between the league, the Seahawks and the running back over how he is going to conduct himself Tuesday at media day, then Wednesday and Thursday when Lynch and every other player has media requirements at the team hotel.

ESPN has reported the NFL also will assess a 15-yard unsportsmanlike foul on the Seahawks — in addition to an inevitable third fine on Lynch — if he goes for grab No. 3 in Sunday’s game.

So that’s what America sees, a defiant rule-breaker.

What those inside the Seahawks see: It’s an act.

No, Lynch doesn’t have a social-anxiety disorder. He isn’t too nervous to talk to the press.

He just plain doesn’t want to.

Coach Pete Carroll said he indeed caters his coaching differently to Lynch than to any other Seahawk, because he is unique.

“That’s really what I do. That’s my job,” Carroll said. “And I’m not going to tell you how I do that because I don’t want somebody else to know.

“Let me say it again: We still celebrate the uniqueness of our players. We celebrate their way that they see the world ...”

Lynch is one of the Seahawks’ most popular teammates.

Players pal around with the kids Lynch flies up to roam the locker room on Saturdays, days that room is off-limits to the media. They see the charity work he does for underprivileged kids back in his hometown through his Fam 1st Family Foundation.

They see Lynch as a joking, shoulder-poking buddy to most in that locker room and on the sideline during games. Even to ... the kickers?

Steven Hauschka missed three field goals for the first time in his life the last time the Seahawks were here, in a 19-3 win at Arizona on Dec. 21. After the third miss, Lynch came up to Hauschka, took his blue-and-green team beanie off his head and playfully shoved it on his kicker’s head, messing with Hauschka’s hair.

Then the running back patted his kicker on the back for encouragement. Both guys smiled.

“He was just trying to cheer me up. It means a lot to have my teammates on my side like that,” Hauschka said.

“Oh, man, he’s a great teammate. And everyone in this locker room would tell you that. He likes to joke around. Yeah, he’s different than most guys. But he’s just a great teammate. Obviously, he’s a heck of a player. But you couldn’t ask for a better teammate and guy to have in the locker room.”

What is the media missing by Lynch not talking?

“You are missing out on a great guy,” Chancellor said. “A great personality. A great football player.

“That’s a guy you can go to and ask for any type of advice, and he knows what to say. He definitely is a very caring guy.”

Again, he hasn’t always been this way to outsiders. Not in Seattle, at least.

People forget that when Lynch first became a Seahawk after his trade from Buffalo during the 2010 season, he talked regularly and often amicably. In that way, he was just like any other player.

It’s hard for many to fathom now, but Lynch had a routine, expansive press conference upon his arrival in Seattle on Oct. 6, 2010.

He talked about how happy he was to be a Seahawk, about the origins of Beast Mode — “It came about back in Pop Warner but it was called ‘Man-Child.’ It was a little something different. As I got to college, it kind of transformed as I kind of took it to another level,” Lynch said then.

He even gave his thoughts on when Carroll coached USC and Lynch was playing at Pac-10-rival Cal.

“I couldn’t stand him. Straight up, I couldn’t stand him,” Lynch said. “He was one of the only coaches you would see running up and down the field like he was playing in the game.”

“He’s one of the best teammates that anybody can ask for,” said center Max Unger, often his lead blocker inside. “One of my favorite players I’ve ever played with.

“I can’t say enough good stuff about him, to be honest with you.”

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