I don't cry often. Hardly ever, in fact. But every time I've queued up a Marshawn Lynch highlight over the past two days, at least one tear has trickled out, and there's nothing I can, or want, to do to stop it.
I fell in love with Lynch after first seeing him while he was at Cal. The power. The elusiveness. The hilarity. It was all perfect. As a college football fan with just a secondhand connection to Washington State as my sole team rooting interest, he immediately became my favorite part of college football.
He went on the get drafted by the Buffalo Bills (with the 12th pick), which was a little sad. Having grown up in New Jersey, I knew first-hand just how irrelevant the Bills truly were, even in the northeast part of the country. I did my best to keep watching Lynch religiously, but frankly, it's hard to watch the Bills play every week. So I stuck mainly to highlights and stat sheets, and tuning in when I could.
He followed in line with many other highly-drafted Bills players (Paul Posluszny comes to mind, too)- solid, but unspectacular. It's unfair to expect supreme greatness out of a first round pick just because they're a first round pick, but the Bills needed (and still need) that player to get out of their rut. Then, of course, there was the misdemeanor weapons charge and the ankle sprain, and it became clear that Buffalo would be shopping Lynch as soon as possible.
Still reeling from the Jim Mora/Julius Jones head coach/running back combination, Seattle was an easy pick in a "where will Marshawn Lynch end up" pool. It was one of those sports marriages that seemed too blatantly obvious to actually happen. And yet, John Schneider and Pete Carroll care not for what usually happens in football. All of a sudden, Marshawn Lynch was a Seahawk.
I remember rushing to a computer to see if the trade was real, because I wouldn't have put it past my friends to have been messing with me. When the glorious words "Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks" finally passed in front of my very own eyes, I wasn't sure how to react. If my memory serves me correctly, the first thing I did was text a friend of mine (who was a Bills fan) with a simple message: "You're going to regret this one."
A lot of Seattle fans adopted Marshawn as their favorite player over the years, and for good reason. The dude was incredible to watch. I always felt a slight, extra boost of enjoyment, however. Having followed nearly his entire televised career, being able to see him succeed with the Seahawks was akin to watching 43-8 unfold in front of my eyes. It felt special, particularly because it was something I thought I'd only dream about.
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Thinking about Marshawn's time in Seattle is sort of strange. I find myself both questioning how it's only been six years since that trade, and how six long years have gone by, simultaneously. That's what watching Lynch did for me. He stopped time from passing in my football world. The original Beastquake seems like it was just yesterday, and I still don't remember physically moving myself on top of the table I ended up on while watching it. His incredible disappearing and reappearing act from the middle of a huddle of Eagles just happened on Sunday, I swear. The crowd-silencing Beastquake 2.0 in Arizona was how the Hawks finished off the Cardinals this season, right?
Danny perfectly encapsulated what Marshawn meant to the Seahawks as an organization, but he was even more than just that. I know I'm not the only one out there who has seen his favorite player and favorite team merge into a happy union, but I doubt many other combinations worked out better than this one. Everyone who watched the Seahawks got the chance to watch his humor, energy and passion reshape the landscape of Seattle sports history. I'm just happy that I can count myself as one of the lucky ones who got to watch that same incredible personality evolve over time, and hit its ultimate crescendo with my favorite team.
Thank you, Marshawn. Thank you for giving me a true warrior to cheer for. Thank you for being the driving force behind turning my favorite team into what they are now. Thank you for making football fun, and providing endless sources of enjoyment, whether you were on the field, or off. Thank you for being who you are.
Thank you for changing Seattle forever.