Usually, Marshawn Lynch gives Seahawks running back Thomas Rawls a text message head’s up when he’s coming to games. Sunday night, though, was a surprise visit from Beast Mode, and with it came some very Marshawn-esque medical advice.
Rawls left the win over the Panthers in the second quarter after being hit in the head by a pair of defenders. He headed to the locker room as part of the league’s concussion protocol but returned for the start of the second half. Somewhere during that timeline, Rawls said Lynch offered him some advice about how to absorb the impact better.
“He was just telling me to brace,” Rawls said in the locker room after Sunday’s dominating 40-7 win. “He was scared because I was holding my head after that play. After getting tested for the concussion, he was just telling me to just make sure to kind of give him a little bit of my body next time. Just listening to him, man. Big brother.”
This advice makes sense on multiple levels. Lynch knows a thing or two about taking and dishing out punishment, running with devastating power throughout his career that ended at the end of last season. Lynch’s legendary compassion for teammates is also nothing new. After former WR Ricardo Lockette’s nearly fatal neck injury, Lynch was among the first to arrive at the hospital and reportedly took care of Lockette’s family.
Rawls, an undrafted second-year back, has taken over the power-rushing tailback spot from Lynch, often seeking contact and hoping to run over defenders. However, at 5 foot 9 and 216 pounds, the physical style has taken a toll on his body, as he missed 13 games since Week 13 of last season – a broken fibula knocking him out of the last six games of 2015 and another leg injury keeping him out for seven this season.
Rawls barreled forward for the best game of his season Sunday against the Panthers, though, rushing for 103 yards and two touchdowns. He was grateful that Lynch was on the sidelines to see him for the performance.
“I was so excited when I seen him,” Rawls said. “He came to the right game, too. We won. Me and the offensive line got a good chance to run up the yards on them but I was so excited, man. That’s big brother right there. I get so excited.”
Rawls was not the only person who was pumped, as Beast Mode’s star-power still extends beyond his influence in the locker room. Throngs of fans made a halo around Lynch as he walked outside CenturyLink about two hours before kickoff, snapping cellphone photos and calling his name. The sold-out crowd exploded in cheers when the Jumbotron cameras caught Lynch grinning in a bright orange jacket on the sidelines.
Lynch’s eccentric personality and brand has also been a hit nationally, with his appearances on Conan being among the most viewed clips the late-night show has. Meanwhile, Lynch’s Beast Mode Store in Oakland has expanded to Seattle, and he is also collaborating with the Seattle Chocolate Company as a pseudo real-life Willy Wonka. Lynch was in town because of an engagement with Amazon, driving the deals-on-wheels truck out on Saturday and handing out Beast Mode-skinned Amazon Echos and Beast Mode hats.
Despite his off-the-field interests, Lynch still makes time for his former teammates. That includes Rawls, who felt like Lynch’s visit was the gift of the day, even as he held onto the game ball.
“He surprised me ‘cause usually he texts me,” Rawls said. “I didn’t get that text, though. I was so excited to see him. … I love whenever I get a chance to see him, man.”