My story in today's News Tribune leads with Marshawn Lynch in ... Turkey, of course.
Specifically, it leads with what we've already discussed here, what I see as the news of what the Seahawks' star runner told Turkish television network NTV Spor while there on a football goodwill trip. That is him describing the specter of becoming "the face of the nation" had he carried the ball from the 1-yard line at the end of Super Bowl 49 rather than Russell Wilson throwing a title-dooming interception with 20 seconds left.
Some readers have jumped me for inferring too much from what Lynch said. One even says I'm part of a white-man media backlash against Lynch.
On that, I'll let what I've written defending Lynch's mockery of the league's player-media policies as brilliant and about the work he does with his foundation in Oakland speak for itself. I've known of Lynch since he was running over high-school kids in the Oakland Athletic League while starring for Oakland Tech and I was referee-ing high-school games in the Bay Area. That was in the late 1990s. I lived blocks from where Lynch went to high school and then to college at California, Berkeley. I get it.
What I think is unmistakable in his latest interview is his point some in this country are not ready for him to be, as he puts it, "the face of the nation." He may be right there.
Yet I still don't see any conspiracy as the reason he didn't get the ball on second and goal from the 1 with Seattle down 28-24. Why, if they didn't want him to be the hero, would the Seahawks have sent him off tackle from the 5 with 1:06 left, when he came within two feet of scoring the likely title-winning touchdown? And then there's the issue that he wouldn't have won the Super Bowl MVP award even had he scored; that had already been voted on by then.
While the idea Pete Carroll didn't want to risk an unsportsmanlike foul on Lynch on a crotch grab or something after a would-be score is interesting, I don't think Carroll got that far in his thinking. I believe Carroll merely out-thought himself before the final snap. He expected Patriots coach Bill Belichick to call time out in the 40 seconds that ran off between Lynch's first-down run and Wilson's fateful throw. When New England didn't stop the clock, Carroll reacted to all the beef the Patriots' defense put in the game and called for coordinator Darrell Bevell to call for a spread formation and pass. Dreadfully for the Seahawks, Bevell chose the exact play the Patriots had practiced for two weeks while preparing for that exact scenario, one on which Belichick had railed at Malcolm Butler for not defending more aggressively during one of New England's final practices before the game. Seattle did precisely what New England expected it to do out of that formation, Butler did as he was coached, and the Seahawks lost. Period. No anti-Lynch conspiracy about it. But I guess it's fun to debate and consider in the quiet months of February and March.
As for Lynch, the Seahawks really could use his word he's coming back to play in 2015 by a week from today. That's when free agency starts, and it would sure help Seattle if it knew now it has to find a new lead back on the market or in next month's draft.
--Here's further evidence supporting Richard Sherman's and Earl Thomas' assertions from this past postseason that the NFL's drug testing isn't as "random" as the collective bargaining agreement requires.
Jon Ryan shows off a physique that is far from punter-like in some Twitter photos of him training to run through the America Ninja Warrior obstacle course. The next day he gets league drug-testing agents showing up at his place for a "random" test.
By the way, a 220-pound punter in a Ninja Warrior contest???