On Marshawn Lynch And Value


Before diving into a discussion on the state of the Seattle Seahawks locker room and personality dynamics, it’s important to acknowledge the simple truth that the 2014 ‘Hawks have been a tremendous disappointment. They haven’t been bad, but they’ve been much worse than anyone expected them to be this year. If the Seahawks weren’t underperforming, odds are we wouldn’t be talking about petty controversies. Yet here we are.

With Percy Harvin having already fallen victim to the inevitable turmoil of a tough year, Marshawn Lynch stands alone as the token guy with “issues.” Never mind that he’s an all-world running back – the focus lately has been not on his abilities, but on the Seahawks’ apparent urgency to get him the hell out of Seattle. If half of what we’ve heard so far is true, then it can be safely assumed that Lynch won’t be back with the Seahawks next season.

Make no mistake, this wouldn’t be as big a deal with a lesser player. If it was Robert Turbin generating all kinds of negative headlines, there’d be less questioning the team’s willingness to cut him. A non-star is easier to get rid of than a star, particularly one who seems tailor-made for the Seahawks’ offense. As a player, it could be reasoned Lynch has value to every team in the game, but the Seahawks in particular. As a person, it seems Lynch’s behavior clashes with Seahawks management more than it might with the brass of another team.

Lynch is a tremendously valuable player on the field, and that’s not really debatable. It stands to reason that his stark introversion off the field impacts his value in some manor, and it’s plausible that that influence is negative. Lynch is famously surly and generally refuses to talk to the media. He’s been a controversial character since his days as a Buffalo Bill. This may not make him a worse football player, but it’s easy to see how it could nip away at his value a little bit.

But how much does this stuff affect the team’s valuation of him? It would appear the Seahawks are just about ready to let Lynch walk away from Seattle forever. Surely the Seahawks realize that Lynch’s contributions on the field come at an elite level. Thus, their behavior would suggest that Lynch’s actions off the field cancel out his actions as a running back.

Never mind that nothing Lynch does seems inherently terrible. Never mind that he sometimes comes across as a genuinely awesome dude. Never mind that being an introvert doesn’t make Lynch a bad person. We’ve got to trust that the team is tired of dealing with his antics, because that’s clearly the situation. They’re over him. He’s a “distraction.” But how talented does a distraction have to be before you just suck it up and let them be themselves?

The Seahawks have been letting Lynch be Lynch for years, and as hard as it’s apparently been for them behind the scenes, all we’ve seen on the big stage is Lynch playing like one of the best players in the world and helping lead his team to a Super Bowl victory. It seems as though his play should have spoken for itself by now, but we’re supposed to believe that it hasn’t been enough. No level of excellence is worth this kind of distraction, it would seem.

If the Seahawks beat St. Louis, do we ever hear any of this? If they squeak past Dallas are we reading about the front office wanting to trade Lynch? Good teams have good locker room chemistry because winning breeds happiness, somewhat obviously. The Seahawks have lost more than they thought they would this year. So all that happiness instead manifests as frustration. Everyone’s frustrated. Frustrated enough to cut one of the team’s best players because he’s an oddball.

It’s crazy. Marshawn Lynch is one of the most important members of the Seattle Seahawks. As a ground-first team with miniscule receiver depth, Lynch is arguably the most critical piece of the ‘Hawks offense. Without him, the team’s identity changes drastically. Without him, the team is immediately much less talented. Less explosive. Less fearsome.

Sure, the Seahawks probably wish Lynch would talk to the media. They wish he’d talk more to his coaches and teammates. But not every human being has to act exactly the same all the time. Lynch is a non-conformist, maybe to some kind of an extreme. His behavior may negatively impact his value, but he’s so good at football that the odds of his personality tanking the worth of the overall package is laughable. Sure, Seattle can trade Lynch if they want to. But they don’t have to, and if they do they’ll be punting on an elite player for potentially trivial reasons.