Marshawn Lynch never gives interviews, but has several of the NFL's most famous quotes. He says over and over again he wants to avoid media attention, but gets called an attention-seeker. His job description includes getting tackled, but he inflicts more pain than the tacklers.
Marshawn Lynch makes so little sense in this world that wherever he goes, he leaves a trail of fascinating things in his wake. Sometimes they're weird words. Sometimes they're brutalized defenders. We can't hope to understand him, but we've tried to compile all the wonderful, strange, and good things about Marshawn Lynch in one post. This is the Marshawn Lynch Encyclopedia.
In 2016, Lynch went on an adventure with Bear Grylls for his NBC show Running Wild, which mostly consisted of Lynch reacting in disbelief to the things he and Grylls had to do Corsican Mountains -- like hunting a wild hog and making a fire from Lynch's dreads.
It made for a great buddy comedy, which sometimes became heartfelt. We know Lynch has been reluctant to talk to the media, but Grylls managed to get some insight on his social welfare work, and why he left football (until 2017, when he agreed to sign with the pre-Vegas Raiders.)
The first recorded instance of Lynch's "Beast Mode" comes from this pre-draft interview. Lynch is asked about his attitude. He firmly responds with "BEAST MODE, on the field."
Although he coined the phrase earlier. As he explained in an interview with NFL Countdown his second season in the league:
It came about one of my coaches always called me a beast, from Pop Warner. And it kinda stuck with me. So when I got up to the league, that was my mindstate. That I was going to be a beast. I took it and ran with it.
By the end of his first NFL season, he already had a grill with the phrase.
The meaning of the phrase varies. Sometimes, it's a nickname for Lynch. Sometimes, it's the bruising, take-no-prisoners style with which he runs. Sometimes it's specific runs he's made.
Lynch's definition for the phrase fluctuates as well. From a 2014 profile by Kevin Fixler:
"Beast Mode, it's part of the lifestyle," he says later. "It's pretty much self-explanatory. It gets thrown around loosely, I mean, all over. It's not set to one specific thing like we're football players or basketball players. Just if you are in your everyday life and you feel like you just accomplished something big that you had going on, then that's Beast Mode. It's an accomplishment, that you put yourself through something to get something better out of it. I feel that that's Beast Mode."
However, the explanation that caught the most traction came in an interview with ex-teammate Michael Robinson released in December:.
The general idea is: Lynch wants to run through defenders, not around them. As Danny Kelly pointed out in his profile of Lynch Tuesday, his 101 broken tackles this season is the most since that category has been tracked. His 15 broken tackles in the NFC Championship game against the Packers was a playoff record, that broke... his own playoff record, from last year's game against the Saints. From that earlier NFL Countdown interview.
"When a defender comes up to tackle me, I want him to feel that ground. I would describe the point of impact as a wonderful feeling. It's what I thrive on: contact."
Marshawn now owns the trademark for "Beast Mode," and hats with the phrase sold out after he wore one at Media Day.
With the Seahawks leading the massively favored Saints 34-30 late in a Wild Card playoff game, Lynch busted out one of the most impressive runs in NFL history:
He made contact with seven New Orleans defenders, but none brought him down, as he went 67 yards for the game-sealing score. The enormous sound from the Seahawks' fans in the stadium was such that area seismologists noticed the movement created by jumping, yelling Seahawks fans. Hence, Beast Quake. For any and all reading about this play, turn to Matt Ufford's story about it
What happened in the stadium next is the sort of thing that NFL Films molds into the league's mythology, a battle-sport fought by giants and replayed in slow-motion to Wagnerian string music.
But I was there, and I'm telling you: the sky ripped open with noise. A roar beyond sound, a physical thing more industrial than human. The earth shook. It really happened.
Against the Cardinals this year, he had a similar run dubbed "Beast Mode 2" (although there was no groundshaking, because they were on the road, and Arizona's fans did not feel like creating an earthquake while watching their team get run through.)
As it turns out, the seismic activity caused by Lynch's run wasn't unique. Scientists in the Pacific Northwest have to be on alert for such things because of the threat of area earthquakes and volcanoes. Plus, for fun and research, they've started paying special attention to CenturyLink Field during games.
They published a full seismic report of this year's playoff win over the Saints on the Seahawks' website, and the quake from after the two-point conversion in the team's massive NFC Championship comeback against the Packers was actually larger than the Lynch run. But the power of that run -- and the idea that Lynch's punishing style caused the ground to move -- will give the original Beast Quake its moment in lore.
Although the majority of Lynch's fame has come on the west coast, his first NFL home was out East. Lynch was selected by the Bills 12th overall in the 2007 NFL Draft. Lynch knew that Buffalo was in New York... but didn't realize it wasn't New York, New York.
"I didn’t know what to expect, I just knew I was going to New York," Lynch told E:60. "I thought I was gonna be out there with Jay-Z, and then when I finally landed in Buffalo… [there was] slush on the ground. It had just finished snowing. I didn’t [know anything about snow]."
Lynch was the replacement for Willis McGahee, who was traded to the Ravens in the 2007 offseason. On his way out of town, McGahee gave a series of quotes about his distaste for Buffalo, a town he felt had unattractive women and little in the way of nightlife besides chain restaurants. Which led to this absolutely brilliant Kenny Mayne video about Lynch's passion for living it up at chain restaurants.
"As a matter of fact, he ate at Applebee's 12 times during the bye week."
"I love the ambiance... I love the decor... I spend a lot of time trying to figure out which one I love more: the ambiance, or the decor."
Lynch managed a thousand yards in his first two years and was selected to the Pro Bowl in his second season, but was unable to gain his starting spot back from Fred Jackson after missing the first three games of the 2009 season with a suspension. He was traded during the 2010 season to the Seahawks for fourth and fifth round draft picks.
There's dancing with cheerleaders:
Dancing with an extremely unwilling Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka:
And dancing because, dammit, you just won the Super Bowl:
Microphones captured an instance where Pete Carroll tried to explain the intricacies of why a hole would open up for him. Lynch feigned interest, but eventually replied with "I just read it" until a bemused Carroll decided to walk away:
Marshawn's other important piece of football strategy is that scoring points is good:
Marshawn wore a FUCK YOU hoodie before the Seahawks' divisional round game against the Saints in 2014:
He also forgot he wasn't supposed to say it in his E:60 video:
He doesn't just use his words to cuss -- before this year's game in Kansas City
Lynch ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns -- including the game-winner -- on a pair of sprained ankles against Washington. He didn't feel like using his legs anymore after the game, so he took a golf cart for a joy ride:
He would also commandeer a cart after his final college game, a 45-10 whooping of Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl:
The original video of Lynch purchasing his Seahawks grill has been made private, but this Vice Sports video of Lynch purchasing a Seahawks grill appears to be the same video:
In it, Lynch tells the story of the time he threw out his first grill at a Jack-in-a-Box after putting it in a napkin while eating so he wouldn't get it dirty.
Lynch also owns a Beast Mode grill, apparently purchased during his first NFL season.
Lynch notes that although he's one of the few football players to wear a grill during games, he doesn't notice it at all, especially with a mouthguard in.
Just about that action, boss
The highlight of Marshawn Lynch's brief 2014 Super Bowl media day appearance was an interview with Deion Sanders. When asked why he didn't want to talk to reporters, Lynch was blunt, saying he was "just about that action, boss:"
Because "that action" -- you know, football -- is more important than interviews to Lynch. One of the least talkative players in the NFL had spawned yet another catchphrase: Soon there was a Just About That Action Boss remix and now it's on a soundboard.
Lynch has never liked speaking to the media. Let's turn the clock back to when Lynch was but a sophomore running back at Cal:
A player who has enough jukes in his arsenal to fake out an entire defense, Lynch tries to pull one more move from his bag of tricks before practice ends on this particular evening. As he approaches the crowd of journalists, Lynch slowly creeps behind wide receiver Robert Jordan, who is walking off the field.
"Hide me, hide me," says Lynch playfully. "They ain't gonna see me."
Nevermind the fact that Lynch is about 55 pounds heavier than Jordan. The sophomore tailback is using his cousin as... a lead blocker to guide himself away from the expectant reporters.
At the time, Lynch's distaste for giving interviews didn't ring a million alarms. The title for this piece is "Reluctant poster boy," as if Lynch was hesitant to take the spotlight, whereas now, amateur psychoanalysts seem to believe Lynch's failure to talk to the media is in and of itself a way of gaining attention. However, his stance has remained the same: He'd prefer to play football.
From that Cal student paper story:
"It ain't that, man," he says. "I just try to do my thing on the field to get ready for the game, instead of being in the way."
"I've never seen anybody win the game in the media. But at the same time, I understand what it could do for you, if you wanted to be someone who talks a lot. But that's not me...
"Football's just always been hella fun to me, not expressing myself in the media. I don't do it to get attention; I just do it 'cause I love that (expletive)."
"I ain't got nothing to say. I just wanna play football."
However, Lynch's lack of interest in talking to the press didn't really turn heads until the 2013-14 season. That's when he got a whopping $50,000 fine for refusing to speak to media shortly before Super Bowl 48. Fans tried to raise money to pay his fine, although Lynch said he would in turn donate their money to charity. It was eventually rescinded under a deal where the fine would be forgotten if Lynch upheld further media obligations, but it would be doubled if he failed to do so. A few weeks later, he went to Super Bowl Media Day for six minutes -- one over the mandatory five.
This November, after the Seahawks' loss to the Chiefs, the NFL ruled Lynch had failed to uphold his media responsibilities, despite the fact that he talked by phone to NFL Network reporters. This triggered the earlier $50,000 fine and an additional $50,000 fine. Since, he's made all his mandatory appearances, but has made a point of giving nearly identical answers to every question. After playing the Cardinals in November, every answer was one word:
Against the Cardinals in December, he used three words -- but the same three words each time:
After beating the Panthers in the playoffs his response was "I'm Thankful:"
On Super Bowl Media Day, he responded to every question with "I'm here so I won't get fined."
The next day, he said "You know why I'm here."
Despite the fines, Lynch might end up making money off his resistance to interviews: For this year's Super Bowl, Skittles and Progressive both made ads starring Lynch where the primary joke is Lynch suddenly being moved to free-flowing, jovial conversation when presented with either Skittles or the opportunity to discuss Progressive insurance. And the hat Lynch wore during media day quickly sold out (although he might pick up an additional fine for wearing it.)
Marshawn Lynch's dick
On Marshawn Lynch's first famous Beast Mode run, after shedding the trillion Saints who tried to bring him, Lynch realized he had clear sailing to the end zone. He responded to this freedom by jumping backwards into the end zone while holding his dick, as a sign of utter, complete disrespect for all the Saints he just embarrassed.
This crowning achievement was immortalized by a Youtube video where a guy commentated Lynch's run, punctuated by a sudden "HOLD MY DIIIIIIICK" as he bounded backwards into the end zone.
On Lynch's similar run this year against the Cardinals, he once again went to his dick:
But this time, the NFL was watching, and gave Lynch an $11,000 fine for the gesture.
Lynch had another big run against the Packers, and knew that if the referees saw him grabbing his dick, they'd give him a 15-yard penalty. So he tried to be subtle, and instead of jumping backwards, merely turned and put his hands on his dick:
Photo credit: Steven Bisig, USA Today Sports
It didn't work, as Lynch received a $20,000 fine and a warning that he would be penalized for dickgrabbing in the Super Bowl. There was a bit of humor here, as the NFL was spotted selling pictures of the penis-touching mere hours after the fine came down. The league also fined Lynch's teammate for allegedly making an obscene gesture near Lynch, although there's no evidence anybody has seen that this ever actually happened.
Before the Super Bowl, Lynch appeared on Conan to teach Conan O'Brien and Rob Gronkowski how to do the dick grab:
Marshawn the Magnaninmous
From the time he was taking his offensive line to Sizzler even though he was broke, Lynch has gone out of his way to give things to people. Even things it doesn't really make sense to give to people. From a Monday Morning QB profile by Robert Klemko:
During his college years at Cal, if a teammate, friend or acquaintance complimented Lynch on the shirt he was wearing, he would hand it over. "He’s walking around on the street with his shirt off," says Ravens running back Justin Forsett, a former teammate of Lynch’s at Cal and in Seattle. "Just because somebody said, ‘That’s a nice shirt.’ "
"I don’t know why," (fellow Seahawks RB Robert) Turbin said. "But he told me, ‘I want you to have this ball. It’s for us. It’s for the running backs, the group, a representation of how we go about our business on a daily basis.’ For whatever reason, that one particular touchdown meant a lot to him, and he wanted me to have it."
He gives extravagant gifts to teammates, although aside from a set of fancy watches, none have been reported:
Every year he takes care of the offensive line. And you hear about running backs taking care of the offensive line, but he goes well above and beyond. He does ridiculous things for the offensive line. I won’t get too much into it because it’s his business.
He makes sure wallets he finds get returned to their owners (although the same name might've helped) Marshawn Lynch returns a wallet to a fellow Lynch.
He handed $500 to a 19-year-old McDonald's employee who complimented his shoes, telling him to get some of his own.
"If you're serious about getting those shoes, here's some money to help you get 'em," Lynch said, according to Downs. "My job is to continue to see you grow."
Lynch thinks about people others wouldn't.
Little known: When Ken Norton Jr. returned to Seattle last yr. after father's death 1 player met him at airport to support - Marshawn Lynch.— Armando Salguero (@ArmandoSalguero) January 28, 2015
And per Klemko: .
Before Jauron’s daughter, Amy, married Falcons media relations assistant Brian Cearns in 2012, Lynch called his buddies who played for Atlanta, including former Pro Bowl safety Lawyer Milloy, to make sure Cearns was an upstanding guy. Apparently satisfied, he never told Jauron that he’d vetted the coach’s future son-in-law.
"That’s priceless," Jauron said upon being told the news more than two years later. "That’s Marshawn."
This profile by Kevin Fixler details the work he does with the Fam 1st Family Foundation, which he started with his cousin, 49ers backup Josh Johnson.
Marshawn Lynch's mom tells a story about his birth explaining his incredible power:
One of four children raised by a single mother, Lynch arrived on April 22, 1986, with an unexpected message from the midwife: he might have had a twin that didn't develop.
"They just knew that Marshawn was living off two placentas," his mother, Delisa, said. "She told me that with that, he may be an amazingly strong child. And I was like, 'For real?'"
Lynch can fix an entire house's plumbing with his bare hands in a minute flat:
"WE WAS RIGHT AT TACO BELL, AND I COULDN'T EVEN GET NO MUHF**KIN QUESADILLA."
After rumbling for 163 rushing yards, 75 receiving yards, and five touchdowns in Oakland Tech's city championship, a high school-aged, admittedly broke Lynch promised he'd take his linemen to Sizzler for their job blocking:
As previously noted, Lynch is, on occasion, incredibly passionate towards family chain dining establishments.
The first televised instance of Marshawn's Skittles habit comes on Dec. 1, 2011, as the Seahawks play the Eagles. After the play, a sideline attendant is seen giving Lynch a handful of Skittles, which he happily eats:
Lynch would finish with 148 yards and two touchdowns, but the biggest story is the Skittles. Within 24 hours, he's reached a promotional deal with the company earning him two years' free supply of the candy and a custom dispenser. However, it was far from his first sideline Skittles experience. Lynch's mom Delisa says she started giving him the candy for games when he was just a kid:
`"When Marshawn was 12 or 13, we'd go to his games and I'd always have little candies in my purse," Lynch's mama explained. "Before the game, I would say, ‘Here Marshawn, come and get you power pellets.'
"I would give him a handful of Skittles and say, ‘Eat 'em up, baby. They're going to make you run fast and they're going to make you play good."
When he broke down his famous run against the Saints for NFL Films, he credited the candy as his inspiration. In November, 2011, a teammate revealed Lynch couldn't stop thinking about the candy during a game-winning drive against the Ravens:
"All he was talking about in the middle of that last drive," Seahawks fullback Michael Robinson said, "was somebody give him some Skittles. That’s the type of guy he is."
Lynch wore a pair of Skittles cleats about a month later against the 49ers:
Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
And was fined $10,000 for wearing them. Soon, fans took to throwing Skittles on the field when Lynch did good things:
Photo credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
During the 2014 playoffs, Lynch was given his own flavor of Skittles:
As part of Marshawn Lynch deal, Skittles has produced a limited amount of this "Seattle Mix" pic.twitter.com/egfE9iMZSA— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 28, 2014
Lynch threw Skittles to fans from a duck boat at the Seahawks' Super Bowl parade -- and somebody handed him a bottle of Fireball in return:
Before the 2015 Super Bowl, he appeared in a Skittles ad that riffed on his infamously laconic press conferences, and in 2017, he traveled to Houston, Scotland to ask people about the Super Bowl, play bagpipes, and do wheelies on the street.
A story from Marshawn's mother, Delisa, from a Seattle Times profile:
Anything he tried, he excelled at doing. He came home one day and told his mother that he won a swim meet.
"What? You can’t swim," Delisa said.
He pulled out a blue, first-place ribbon. After asking around, Delisa realized her son was a good swimmer, even though he never had any formal lessons.
Michael Phelps wouldn't have been on the Wheaties box if I stuck with swimming. I've been swimming since I was a little kid. I still swim. I'm the best. I am Olympic caliber right now, hell yeah.
Marshawn Lynch places velvet ropes around his Lamborghini when he parks it in public -- or at least he did once:
World of his own
Marshawn has a special talent for looking like he doesn't realize other people are there, too. At the ESPYS:
In the middle of a game:
In an interview, when he literally puts his mouth on the camera and yells if anybody is there:
And at the end of it all, Marshawn Lynch retired in the most perfect way.