By Michael Silver | July 23, 2020
It lasted less than three weeks, but Marshawn Lynch's surprising late-season return to the Seahawks last year helped heal broken hearts, mended fences and supplied a sense of closure for all parties involved.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of the quotes in this story contain language that may be offensive. The language was preserved to present the speaker's message as the speaker intended.
The familiar figure emerged from the double doors and ambled onto the indoor practice field at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, a triumphant smile on his face and a dark blue hoodie layered underneath the "24" jersey on his back. The jersey had a nameplate, but it wasn't necessary. With 2Pac's California Love blaring from the sound system, all eyes were on Marshawn Lynch as the iconic and iconoclastic halfback stepped onto the turf last Christmas Eve day, more than 14 months removed from his last NFL action -- and nearly four years since the last time he'd suited up for the Seattle Seahawks, the franchise with whom he'll always be inexorably linked.
Five days before the game that would decide the NFC West title, Lynch had a hood over his head and his hands in a front sweatshirt pocket as everyone in his midst waited anxiously to see what the future Hall of Famer, four months shy of his 34th birthday, still had left. Lynch was anxious, too. An almost freakish rash of December injuries had created a massive need at the running back position as the Seahawks closed in on the postseason, and Lynch -- who'd actually begun to plant the seeds of his unlikely return as far back as training camp -- had arrived to provide the 2019 NFL campaign's most dramatic plot twist.
For the story to sizzle, however, he had to show that this was more than a nostalgic romp -- that Beast Mode was not yet extinct.
A few minutes later, the Seahawks got their answer, and so did Lynch. It was the ultimate Blast From the Past.
Lynch took a handoff from quarterback Russell Wilson and hit the hole, and it was as if time stopped. He got to the second level, quickly. He looked good. Like, 2014 good. Agile and spry, Lynch put on a show, making quick cuts, bouncing off defenders, catching the ball in traffic and rambling into the secondary. As the practice continued and Lynch kept charging, coach Pete Carroll, general manager John Schneider and virtually everyone else on the field felt the energy and vibed off of it. There were oohs and aaahs and shouts of "OG!" as the unique combination of burst and power and furious defiance was blessedly resurrected for all to see.
As Lynch would recall months later while vacationing on Hawaii's Big Island, "They were really on some hype, like, 'Damn, OG, your old ass can still move.' It was always that 'OG' s---. But s---, I ain't gonna lie: I oohed and aahed my damn self. I wasn't expecting to be able to move and get down like that.
"But I guess it was just like once I got plugged back in, I was in The Matrix or something."