Want to have a productive Tuesday? Here’s some advice: don’t read this article.
As you may have heard, Marshawn Lynch announced his retirement on Sunday. Of course, that’s only if you count a cryptic tweet captioned by an emoji an “announcement.” But given Lynch’s aversion to the media, it’s probably the closest we’re going to get.
Lynch didn’t go out on top like Peyton Manning. His farewell campaign was pretty ho-hum, at least by Beast Mode standards. But in reviewing his nine-year career, an activity I devoted several hours to on Monday, I think it’s fair to wonder, has there ever been a more YouTube-friendly player than Marshawn Lynch?
I’ve been a Lynch fan for as long as I can remember, and it’s not for the reasons you might expect. Sure Lynch is a great running back with legitimate Hall of Fame credentials. As ESPN’s Adam Schefter pointed out, Lynch’s career stats compare favorably to Houston Oilers great Earl Campbell. But what always drew me to Lynch was that he never tried to be anyone other than himself. Was Lynch unorthodox? Sure. But he was always authentic and fans loved him for it.
Many of Lynch’s best moments, or at least the ones that resonated most with me, came off the field. His Applebee’s adventures were the stuff of legends. I’ve yet to see anyone kick a ball as far as him. Who else could get away with jumping into an end zone full of Skittles? And does anyone else’s chest still hurt from laughing at Lynch’s hilarious Mortal Combat bit with Gronk and Conan? Let’s also never forget that Lynch’s favorite book is The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss. The man is a viral video waiting to happen.
But if it’s not the wild hair or the Beast Quake we remember him by (or the sequel, Beast Quake 2.0), Lynch’s unique vocabulary will be his lasting legacy. Lynch was as quotable as any athlete I can remember with catch phrases like "stupid fast" and “I’m just here so I won’t get fined.” His “bout that action” quip was another one for the books. Plain and simple, Lynch made the game fun.
Lynch did things differently, but he did them well. In a league that’s becoming more pass-oriented each year, Lynch was a true power runner with an incredible nose for the end zone. Lynch’s four-year stretch from 2011-2014 was as good as any we’ve seen. He totaled at least 1,200 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns in each season while making two Super Bowl trips. He likely would have been a two-time champion if not for one of the worst coaching decisions in Super Bowl history.
At age 29, now is as good a time as any for Lynch to hang it up. His body broke down this season and the Seahawks were unlikely to bring him back given his huge salary (he was due $9 million in 2016) and the emergence of Thomas Rawls (830 yards as a rookie in 2015). Even with Lynch gone, the Seahawks are still co-favorites to win the Super Bowl next year. Their Vegas odds are 8-1, the same as Pittsburgh and New England.
Click on the links if you want to get nothing done today. Deuces, Beast Mode. You’ll be missed.
TO’s HOF Snub
This weekend in San Francisco, the Hall of Fame selection committee took 43 minutes to decide Terrell Owens’ fate. Apparently that’s how long it takes to make the wrong decision.
Owens was curiously absent from this year’s Hall of Fame class. Not electing two-time MVP Kurt Warner was another oversight by the committee, but Owens was certainly the more blatant snub. Statistically, you could argue Owens is the greatest receiver not named Jerry Rice (Randy Moss is also in that discussion). Owens is second in career yards, third in touchdowns and sixth in catches. Meanwhile Marvin Harrison, who trailed Owens in both touchdowns and yards, is headed to Canton. The Hall of Fame has been notoriously tough on wide receivers—by my count only 25 from the modern era have made it—but the fact that Owens won’t be enshrined this year is truly baffling.
There’s no denying Owens was high maintenance. He was a diva through and through. But if character concerns are such a big deal, why did it take the committee less than 10 seconds to decide Brett Favre was good enough to make the cut? Favre got plenty of bad press after the Jenn Sterger debacle and his annual retirement flip-flopping was just as bad as Owens’ obnoxious celebrating. Then again, maybe it’s just the position Owens plays. Only five receivers have made it on the first ballot with none since Jerry Rice in 2010. Owens should be in the Hall soon, but making him wait an extra year seems unnecessary. Maybe he’ll pass the time by playing for the L.A. Rams.
Another debate that popped up this weekend was whether Cam Newton was justified in walking out of his post-game press conference after Carolina’s heartbreaking loss to Denver in Super Bowl 50. I see both sides to this one.
I have no problem with any of Cam’s perceived antics—the dabbing, the Superman obsession, stealing banners from Packers fans. Football is about winning but it’s also about entertainment. This year, Cam gave us the best of both worlds.
But to be a leader, which is what Cam is, you have to take the good with the bad. Vikings kicker Blair Walsh put it best earlier this postseason: “I want you there when I make the game-winning kicks and I realize I got to have you guys here when I miss them.” If Cam wants us to sing his praises when he’s doing well, he has to be accountable when he plays poorly. Cam’s nonparticipation in Sunday’s press conference didn’t show much accountability.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Cam was hurting Sunday. To come as close as he did and not win is a gut-wrenching feeling. And who am I to judge? As a 13-year-old, I cried when Aaron Boone homered off Tim Wakefield in the ALCS. Five years later I threw a shoe across my Syracuse dorm room after the Red Sox lost to Tampa Bay in the playoffs. Losing never gets any easier (neither does being a Red Sox fan). Standing at a podium and answering questions after losing the biggest game of your life is an impossibly hard task, especially when you can hear the Broncos celebrating on the other side of the wall. And what if Cam had been cheerful at his press conference? Wouldn’t that have rubbed Panthers fans the wrong way? They’d be asking, why doesn’t he care? It was a no-win situation.
And here’s another thing to consider. The Panthers flew into California last Sunday. The first media availability was Monday night, one day earlier than usual. After a week of answering the same questions over and over, don’t you think Cam was exhausted? I would be. Players like to think the Super Bowl is just another game but it isn’t. The media frenzy won’t allow it to be. Whether that’s good or bad, I don’t know. But I can understand why Cam wanted to get the heck out of there.
Quick Hits: The Saints cleaned house by dumping Jahri Evans, David Hawthorne, Ramon Humber and Seantavius Jones. Evans, a six-time Pro Bowler, should generate plenty of interest in free agency … According to beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter, the Falcons are “leaning toward retaining” Roddy White. The 34-year-old played all 16 games this year but was held to 43 catches for 506 yards and only one touchdown … The Falcons pulled the plug on OLB Justin Durant and SS William Moore. Both players received negative grades from Pro Football Focus this year … Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston expects the Patriots to “explore the possibility” of signing Matt Forte. The eight-year veteran delivered 1,287 yards from scrimmage this year with seven touchdowns in only 13 games … Things just keep getting worse for Johnny Manziel. His ex-girlfriend Colleen Crowley has filed a restraining order against him and claims Manziel hit her so hard she ruptured her eardrum. The Browns are expected to waive Manziel when the new league year begins on March 9 … Over the weekend, LeSean McCoy and former Chargers running back Curtis Brinkley were accused of assaulting at least two off-duty police officers at a nightclub in Philadelphia. ESPN’s Mark Schwarz said a warrant for McCoy’s arrest is “imminent” … ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning the Eagles were not planning to place the franchise tag on Sam Bradford and also said the team was interested in a reunion with Nick Foles. The Philadelphia Daily News and Philadelphia Inquirer have since refuted both reports … The Eagles parted ways with Riley Cooper on Monday. He caught just 21 balls for 327 yards and two touchdowns this year. A reunion with Chip Kelly in San Francisco could be a possibility for Cooper … Impending free agent Reggie Bush is not considering retirement. He missed the last eight games of 2015 with a torn MCL … Former Lions receiver Titus Young was arrested on felony battery charges late last month. If convicted Young, who is still on probation for his last arrest, could face up to nine years in jail … DeMarcus Ware has no plans to retire. The 34-year-old registered 3.5 sacks during Denver’s Super Bowl run … Super Bowl MVP Von Miller said his contract negotiations with the Broncos will be a “peaceful thing.” The Broncos are fully expected to place the franchise tag on Miller if they can’t work out a long-term agreement … Greg Jennings said teammate Ryan Tannehill is looking for “more freedom” under the Dolphins’ new coaching staff. Miami’s previous offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor, restricted Tannehill from calling audibles at the line of scrimmage … Ex-Giants coach Tom Coughlin insists that he’s not retiring. Coughlin interviewed for the Eagles’ head coaching job last month but eventually removed his name from consideration … The FBI is investigating Jeremy Shockey in connection with an international drug and gambling ring allegedly masterminded by Shockey’s friend, former USC tight end Owen Hanson. Shockey told the FBI he has “nothing to hide” … Eli Manning didn’t look too thrilled after Peyton won the Super Bowl on Sunday. Someone gave it the Curb Your Enthusiasm treatment. My work here is done.