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Jadeveon Clowney could be more like Marshawn Lynch than Sheldon Richardson

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Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

On Sunday night I watched “Marshawn Lynch: A History” on Amazon and I mostly enjoyed it. I struggled to call it a movie or a documentary. I think it’s probably fair to call it one or both of those things but during some of the journey through 700+ clips — some about Lynch, others about racism or the media — and zero narration or stopping throughout it I felt like it was more of a very thorough YouTube video.

And why isn’t a YouTube video a movie or a documentary? I don’t know, I guess it should be after you pay $3.99 for it. Do I recommend it to Seahawks fans? I think that’s obviously the case. You might see a few Marshawn clips that you missed along the way and parts of it are edited together in ways that make you laugh or make you think, which I guess is the point of editing or making movies.

It was during the Buffalo part of the movie? doc? video that I was reminded that Marshawn not only had a life before Seattle, but he had a highly publicized life. He was “Marshawn Lynch” before he was a Seahawk; it was just that after he became a Seahawk and started winning all those games that being Marshawn Lynch became magnified and that’s sort of when we also saw the implosion of Lynch in the locker room and at forced contractually obligated press conferences.

(I gotta be honest after re-watching all of them that I don’t know why Lynch made such a big deal out of the media stuff because he really seemed to be his own tormentor by the end, but him making a big deal out of the media stuff is also a reason for his off-field success and subsequent extra income/popularity so ... he still wins.)

And so during those Bills years, I thought of a wildly popular college athlete who becomes an elite NFL draft prospect that gets picked by a flailing franchise looking for some stability with a young star to build hope around. I thought of a guy who spends a few years in that organization, sometimes drawing praise for his rare abilities, sometimes drawing criticisms for not being as good as they thought he’d be coming out of college, and never quite satisfying enough to the fans that went crazy for him on draft night. I thought of a guy who then gets overshadowed at his position by a teammate or multiple teammates and eventually becomes expendable at a point when his value is so low that you can’t believe his original team would even pull the trigger on that meager return.

Of course, I then thought about Jadeveon Clowney.

Lynch was the 12th overall pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007. He rushed for 1,115 yards as a rookie and made the Pro Bowl in year two. He had a disastrous year three and the Bills shockingly took C.J. Spiller ninth overall in 2010. I say shocking because I can’t believe less than ten years ago it was not that big of a deal for an organization to take a running back in the top-15 within four years of each other. That’s Buffalo. Early in the 2010 season, with Fred Jackson and Spiller in the mix, the Bills traded Lynch to the Seahawks for two mid-round picks.

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Clowney was the 1st overall pick by the Houston Texans in 2014. There was some talk that the Texans wouldn’t take Clowney because they already had J.J. Watt in the mix and there’s some debate if that would be overkill at a time that they had many other needs, while others worried he just wasn’t a good fit for their defense. I think both are probably true to some degree. Hard to believe at this point that Clowney went over Khalil Mack and Aaron Donald, the two contracts he’s chasing right now, but that’s how we felt about Clowney in 2014.

During his first two seasons, Watt was healthy and Clowney was not, rarely leading to them being on the field at the same time. In 2016-2017, Clowney was healthy and productive but Watt missed 24 of 32 games. Things finally came together in 2018 and the pair combined for 25 sacks on an 11-5 team that was bounced in the first round of the playoffs, 21-7. That’s the end result of five years “with” Clowney and Watt.

Disappointed in the five years they had with Clowney and Clowney most likely disappointed with an organization that has never enjoyed success beyond the regular season and now not paying him Donald-Mack money (Donald Mack Money is one million percent my rap name), the GM-less Texans traded Clowney to Seattle for a mid-round pick, a player they were going to cut, and a good prospect who was a sixth round pick a year ago.

Over the last decade, I don’t think any general manager has made as many trades involving star players as John Schneider has, and yet many of them have underwhelmed. Percy Harvin. Jimmy Graham. Sheldon Richardson. Even when Graham and Richardson played well during most of their tenure, they weren’t as good or as helpful or as properly utilized as we had all hoped. But that’s not always the case. It wasn’t the case with Duane Brown.

And it damn sure wasn’t the case with Marshawn Lynch, the first major trade of the Pete Carroll era.

Does that mean that a change of scenery will immediately tap the rest of Clowney’s potential that he had coming out of South Carolina? Does it mean that Seattle will have a “BeastQuake” Clowney moment in the playoffs and work out a contract with him as a franchise hero similar to how they eventually did with Lynch? No. Nothing necessarily means anything, but there are similarities in both deals and in both players that warrant mention and serve as reminders that with new opportunities and new organizations players do sometimes shine in ways we didn’t know we could imagine.

And if Clowney does produce and draw more media attention with the Seahawks, I think he’ll also either be willing to talk about it ... or he’ll be thankful.