Suddenly Marshawn Lynch was out, with no warning and little explanation.
Seahawks fans were understandably frantic for news. This was an emergency.
I relied on Lynch’s own four-word solution for such hysteria: “Stop freakin’, call Beacon.”
So I dialed 1-800-FREAKIN.
And true to the word of the local plumbing company famously endorsed by Lynch, somebody answered in the predawn Saturday ready to address my drainage needs.
“Do you know what happened to Marshawn Lynch?” I asked.
“Uh, no, I have no idea,” the man answered genially before adding that he wasn’t really a follower of football.
It seemed the exchange would be a glib preamble to a column on the absence of the star running back, leading to speculation over this new mysterious subplot to his often dramatic career.
But it actually seemed relevant in the way the earnest plumbing dispatcher knew nearly as much about Lynch’s condition and readiness to return to football as did Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.
And that’s the biggest curiosity in the latest chapter of the Lynch Chronicles.
Just how did such a disconnect grow between Lynch (the willful running back who is at the very core of the Seahawks’ combative identity), and the Seahawks (the team that had made him wealthy while still giving him free rein to be his own quirky self)?
After getting surgery to repair a vaguely identified abdominal injury, Lynch not only rehabbed away from the team facility with non-staff trainers, but seemed to be incommunicado as well.
At times when Carroll was asked about Lynch’s progress, or even his physical location, the coach gave hazy answers that implied he wasn’t necessarily up to speed on those matters.
Can any coach — any boss, any employer — appreciate having such little notion of the status of one of his key resources?
But when Lynch returned Monday after missing seven games, Carroll reported that Lynch was “ready to rock.” He was listed as a full participant in practices all week.
Friday, Lynch was downgraded to questionable, although Carroll was circumspect, and then Lynch was ruled out entirely. Some seemed interested in the wording of the team’s explanation. “… he felt like he couldn’t play.”
Does that sound like Lynch left the team hanging? Maybe.
But not necessarily. In the case of almost every rehabbing player, the question eventually is asked: Can you go or not? Teams don’t force injured players onto the field. Not anymore. It often comes down to a subjective assessment by the player.
If the player says “no go,” they take his word. Rarely is it so abrupt, but such things can happen with athletes on the mend. And the unpredictable should be expected with Lynch by now.
For a long time, Lynch has operated the way he runs the football: full-bore, on a path of his own design.
Questioning his toughness, or his willingness to go all-out for the team, though, has zero historical credence.
These things are inarguable: He’s been nothing but a warrior for this team, a game-changing force with his unrelenting effort who has earned the highest of praise from his teammates.
“He’s an extraordinary member of this team, and he always has been,” Carroll said this week. “He’s been a lead dog for a long time in this program, about carrying the football and being tough and physical and stepping up when you have to.”
How could Carroll and staff not be frustrated, though, having had no hand in the critical rehab process? And being reasonably convinced he would be ready.
So, what now?
Lynch has taken an incalculable beating because of the punishing way he plays. It’s what has made him one of the most popular players in franchise history. But it makes him vulnerable, too.
Maybe this disconnect is a prelude to the inevitable separation. Because of the injuries, his age, and the size of his contract, it is considered unlikely he’ll be a Seahawk next season.
And next season will start with the Seahawks’ next loss. Sunday, perhaps.
Anything that happens with Lynch triggers such passion from his fans, so it becomes both news and the source of speculation.
Maybe there’s a great explanation to all this. And maybe Lynch gets a more fitting send-off.
Because if he ends up missing his last opportunity to play in a Seahawks uniform, it will be an unfulfilling and anticlimactic end to a remarkable career in Seattle.
And that will be freakin’ sad.