The Seahawks accept Marshawn Lynch's eccentric ways

PHOENIX -- Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch was the star of the show Tuesday at Super Bowl media day for doing, well, almost nothing.

Let's face it. Lynch is the star of the week, the enigmatic man of mystery who becomes more beloved by fans every time he defies NFL rules and thumbs his nose at its regulations.

For his teammates and coaches, the sideshow isn't important. They see a man who represents everything they cherish in a football player and friend. But one question remains: Can they keep him?

Lynch is under contract through next season, but would be an $8.5 million salary-cap hit when the Seahawks need to sign quarterback Russell Wilson and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner to extensions. The contracts for the pair are expected to exceed $120 million.

Releasing Lynch would save $7 million, but no one cuts arguably the best running back in the league and the heart-and-soul of the team's offense. Not to mention the fact Lynch is worshiped by Seahawks fans.

And even if they do want him back, who knows what Lynch will do, a man who often does the opposite of what anyone expects. He might ask for a contract extension and hold out of training camp until he gets it. Or, believe it or not, he might just call it quits and walk away from the game on top.

No one knows, probably not even Lynch. Drama should be his middle name. Tuesday was another example. Lynch repeatedly said he was attending media day to "keep from getting fined," then left after his five minutes of fame were up.

Once again, Lynch outsmarted the NFL.

"He is a lot smarter than what people think," Seattle receiver Doug Baldwin said. "He is very, very wise."

Baldwin and the rest of the Seahawks think the Lynch media/NFL war is meaningless. And it is.

"He is probably one of the best teammates I have ever been around," Baldwin said. "He is a comedian. He is a supporter. He will get on you when he needs to get on you when you need it. Obviously, he doesn't like talking to the media because that is just not him. We all know him in the locker room as the true teddy bear that he is and we love him for it."

You wouldn't think so, but Tom Cable, the Seattle offensive line coach and assistant head coach, said he has a lot in common with Lynch.

"Neither one of us care about the noise," Cable said. "We really don't. That's a blunt answer, but it's really about our teammates and our coaches. That's what I care about. I don't need to hear an opinion on someone or whatever. That just never really got very far with me. He and I understand that about each other. Let's just do what we do for all the other guys and worry about the other stuff later. We connect that way."

Cable has patterned the team's zone blocking schemes around Lynch's bruising downhill running skills.

"He's the best player in the backfield in pro football," Cable said. "I don't think there's a better runner than him. I've been around some good ones and they've all run for 1,000 yards, but he's done it his way.

"For me, he makes it easier for everybody. When you're the best and you accept that responsibility, which he has, that's what people need to understand. He truly gets the responsibility to take this football team where it wants to go. We all just kind of work with him and he works with us to get that done."

Lynch, however, tends to get things done in his life differently than most people. He was the only team member who didn't go the White House ceremony to meet the president last year. He doesn't go to organized team activities, which are voluntary, and he held out of camp for eight days last summer to get more money up front in his contract, sensing the uncertainty over the final year of his deal. His 2014 salary was increased from $5 million to $6.5 million.

He has been fined twice this season for making a lewd gesture after touchdowns, which will become a 15-yard penalty if he does it in the Super Bowl (all his teammates say he won't). And, of course, his constant battle to avoid talking to the media, which cost him $100,000 earlier this season.

"I believe we have our constitutional rights of freedom of speech about what we want to say," Seattle left tackle Russell Okung said. "Obviously, the NFL has certain stipulations in place, and they require us to speak at certain moments. When we all signed our contracts we all agreed to that. We understand that, but I believe if somebody wants to say something or they choose not to say something it should be just fine."

Most of the Seahawks see this as superficial nonsense. It has nothing to do with Lynch as a player or a person.

"He's one of my all-time favorite players I've ever played with," Seahawks center Max Unger said. "He's just like an awesome guy, totally cool locker room dude off the field."

Strong safety Kam Chancellor likes the fact Lynch always will tell you exactly what he thinks.

"He's fun, he's active and he's hilarious," Chancellor said. "He has great advice. If you are in need of advice or are ever going through something, you can go to Marshawn and talk to him. He'll give it to you straight, clean cut. It's going to be real."

The Seahawks accept Lynch's being different because they know when the whistle blows will sacrifice his body.

"Marshawn is an extraordinary character," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. "He is the most giving, the most loyal and one of the great teammates that you can want because of the way he takes care and looks after people. He's got a remarkable sense about that. His sense for loyalty runs extraordinarily deep and his teammates know that."

Many of the most talented and influential people in world history were a bit odd, possibly because they viewed things in a different light than everyone else.

That's not to say Lynch ranks in world history, but he is an exceptionally gifted athlete who doesn't care about doing things in a traditional manner. That's why he is hard to read and difficult to understand. And he is as unpredictable as he is memorable.

Consequently, Lynch's future is unknown, and he probably likes it that way.

"For Marshawn, it just doesn't matter," Cable said. "He's going to do what he does and he's going to be himself. He's a guy that cares about everyone in that locker room. Anytime you hand it to him, he's carrying them. He's not carrying the football, he's carrying his team. That's who he is. That's what he does."