Allow your imagination to accompany mine a couple years down the road.
It’s a hot early August evening in Canton, Ohio, and there has never been more excitement about a Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Ratings soar and attendance is at record levels because no one — absolutely no one — can predict what is going to happen when Marshawn Lynch is formally inducted.
Will the former Seattle Seahawks running back actually wear that gaudy gold blazer, which makes even the most physically impressive former player look like a realtor or a bowl-game representative?
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Or will he have a hoodie on underneath, his eyes hidden by sunglasses?
Will he step up to the mic and say “I’m only here for the jacket”?
Will he pound on a native hand drum? Will he scatter Skittles among the patrons?
When he’s finished, will he grab a big handful of himself and dive backward into the crowd?
The limitless possibilities played out in my mind soon after I saw the list of 2017 Hall inductees announced last week.
The first thought was of relief for former Seahawks safety Kenny Easley. He should have gotten in on the regular ballot years ago. He was so far ahead of his time in the mid-80s that his injury-shortened time of service should have been irrelevant.
But admission as a senior at least partially compensated for the oversight.
The second thought was that when Denver Bronco back Terrell Davis was voted in, it seemed that the door opened wide for Seahawk back Marshawn Lynch.
And, man, do I want to watch his acceptance speech.
In a general sense, the Hall’s movement with Easley and Davis seems a recognition that truly great players shouldn’t be punished for injury-shortened careers, and a player’s impact on the game can tip the scales against less impressive total career statistics.
Backs like Gale Sayers and Earl Campbell were fairly rare exceptions whose excellence warranted induction even if their career numbers were below the typical statistical thresholds.
Since Lynch’s retirement, his Hall worthiness was fair debate. He finished with 9,112 yards in nine seasons, with 74 rushing touchdowns and five Pro Bowl appearances. A good number of backs had bigger totals and will go nowhere near Canton.
Davis’ rushing total of 7,607 yards ranks a lowly 55th all time as he had just four healthy seasons before a knee injury killed his career. But he rushed for more than 2,000 yards in one of those seasons, and he won both an MVP and a Super Bowl MVP.
In some ways, former Seahawk Shaun Alexander might have better grounds for induction than Davis; he’s 33rd in all-time rushing and rushed for 100 touchdowns — setting the NFL record of 27 in his NFL MVP season of 2005.
So the numbers game can be tricky.
But Davis makes it easier on Lynch. His voting proves that committee members weigh the intangibles.
Perhaps when they look at Alexander (who was one of 13 running backs nominated for Hall consideration this year) they see somebody who had a stellar career, but who benefited from running behind All-Pros Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson.
But Lynch, well, he was different. He made holes where none existed. The effort shown in some of his 2-yard gains would be on other backs’ career highlight reels.
And when he really broke away on one, the result was unforgettable. Every player in the NFL watched his Beast Quake run against New Orleans and screamed in awe.
How many years into the future will that run be shown on highlights? Or the one against Arizona in 2014, or the time he powered out of a cluster of the entire Eagle defense, or the cut that dropped Ray Lewis flat on his face, or the sweep against the Giants that left players flattened or grasping at air?
There truly were dozens of times when Marshawn Lynch caused witnesses to question whether they really saw what they thought they saw. Did that just happen? Did he just do that?
That’s what gets somebody in the Hall of Fame.
And that’s why Lynch will be there, because it’s not just a haven for the great, but for the truly extraordinary.
You never knew what he would do next.
And that will go for his induction as well.