Marshawn Lynch retired earlier this year after having enjoyed a successful career on the gridiron, but an oft-controversial one away from it.as one of the NFL's biggest enigmas.
Never one to fully open up to the media, the former Seattle Seahawks star had to deal with being labelled everything from elusive, arrogant and immature to a straight-up thug during his playing days.
His fellow NFL players, though, never bought into his media portrayal and often claimed he was the best teammate and friend they could ask for. An anecdote in a Players Tribune piece by former Seahawks wide receiver Ricardo Lockette sums up just what Lynch is really like.
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Lockette, recounting the aftermath of a thunderous hit during a 2015 Seahawks vs Dallas Cowboys game that left him fearing for his life and, ultimately, led to his retirement, went into detail about how Lynch wouldn't leave his hospital bedside on the night of the accident:
"A lot of people don’t know the real Marshawn," the wideout wrote. "They don’t understand what kind of a man he is...My goal in life is to have 10% of the effect that Marshawn has on people’s lives.
"When I was taken to the hospital in Dallas, Marshawn stayed in my room with me the whole first night.
"This dude had me laughing so hard that he was putting my damn life in danger. I’m laying in bed with a full neck brace, just trying to stay still, and he’s just being Marshawn — talking to the nurses, making jokes, being crazy."
Lynch's aversion to the media led, somehow, to questions about his character. The more we learn about the multi-time Pro Bowler, however, the more he seems to be one of the more genuine players to have passed through the NFL in recent years:
"When I look back on my life, I’m not going to remember the Super Bowls the most," Lockette continued. "What I’m gonna actually remember is moments like that night in the hospital.
"...I’m laying there in a neck brace, I can’t move, I just cried my eyes out, and here’s a guy who just wants to make me laugh and forget about the pain."
The NFL will be a sadder place this season with Lynch away enjoying his retirement, and it looks like the Seattle Seahawks will have a tough time replacing his influence on and off the field of play.