The Tuesday deal that brought Buffalo running back Marshawn Lynch to Seattle could turn out to be one of those transactions that satisfies both trading partners as well as the player in the middle of it.
For the Seahawks, Lynch brings muscle to an all-bark, no-bite ground game. The 215-pound power back demands that defenses consider the threat of a run on third-and-short situations, which in turn should improve the play-action pass capability of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.
For the Bills, Lynch’s departure clears up a backfield logjam, with Fred Jackson and C.J. Spiller, that had found Spiller as the odd man out – an odd man to be out, considering that the rookie was the ninth overall selection in the 2010 draft. And with Seattle sending a fourth-round draft pick in 2011 and a conditional pick in 2012 to Buffalo in the trade, the league’s oldest continuously floating rebuilding project gets two more pieces for its vision of the future.
As for Lynch – feel free to cross your fingers – he just might have landed in the right place at the right time, which is saying something, because it seems as though the former University of California star is never in the right place at the right time.
Professionally, Lynch’s once-promising career stalled in Buffalo.
After rushing for 1,115 yards as a 2007 rookie and earning a Pro Bowl invitation the following season, when he ran for 1,036 yards and scored nine touchdowns, Lynch was done no favors by the Bills’ revolving-door football staff. He’s only 24, a month into his fourth NFL season, and yet by the time he makes his debut with the Seahawks, he’ll have played for three different head coaches and five different offensive coordinators.
Off the field, Lynch is one of those guys who either finds trouble or has an unfortunate tendency to bump into it halfway down the block.
In 2006, while he was visiting his old high school in Oakland for his sister’s graduation, Lynch’s car was ambushed by shooters who thought it belonged to somebody else.
In 2008, he was involved in a Buffalo hit-and-run case not as serious as the initial charges indicated – the victim had been dancing in the street and wasn’t injured – and Lynch ended up with a $100 fine and a revoked driver’s license.
In 2009, he was visiting friends in Los Angeles after the Pro Bowl when police pulled over his car and did a search after smelling marijuana. They found loaded a handgun belonging to Lynch, and though the drug charges were thrown out, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor possession of a weapon. The incident earned him a trip to the office of league commissioner Roger Goodell, who slapped Lynch with a three-game suspension served at the beginning of the 2009 season.
“The message that he gave me came through,” Lynch would tell reporters. “I can still feel some of the words running through my body right now as he said them in the meeting.”
Goodell’s stern words obviously struck a nerve, because since that meeting, Lynch has pretty much steered clear of unflattering headlines … if you discount the Buffalo police officer who told the Buffalo News last December that his wife was down $20 after Lynch swiped the bar tab she was in the process of paying at a TGI Friday’s.
Scarfing a couple of sawbucks might not be a crime worthy of prosecution, but it’ll get you permanently eighty-sixed from a Buffalo-area restaurant – even if you’re a starting Bills running back who once was selected for the Pro Bowl. Lynch is familiar with that drill: Two other Buffalo barkeeps told him he was never again welcome in their establishments after they saw him pouring drinks from his own bottle of liquor.
Summing up: His saloon etiquette is awful, and there’s been lots of bad luck with the cars he’s driven and the cars he’s parked. From Southern California to western New York, Lynch has developed a knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Perhaps that trend took a career-changing turn on Tuesday, when the Seahawks arranged for Lynch to energize an offense that both needs him and wants him. If nothing else, he’ll will be reunited in Seattle with Justin Forsett, his close friend and former Cal teammate.
Call it exoneration by association: If you hang with somebody as admired and respected as Forsett, there’s no way you can be the same disreputable citizen your history indicates.
A week from Sunday, when he takes a handoff and churns upfield in an attempt to move the chains on third-and-short, Marshawn Lynch finally will be in the right place at the right time, surrounded by the right friends and the right coaching staff.
A few words of advice, kid.
Don’t blow it.