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Clayton: Justin Forsett’s Seahawks legacy is helping Marshawn Lynch become Beast Mode

Justin Forsett, Marshawn Lynch's college teammate at Cal, helped usher in Beast Mode in Seattle. (AP)
LISTEN: RB Justin Forsett on his retirement from NFL

It was great catching up Wednesday with former Seahawks running back Justin Forsett on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Forsett has officially announced his retirement from the NFL after nine seasons. It wasn’t a surprise; he tipped off that he was thinking about retiring when we talked at the Super Bowl. Forsett was promoting his ShowerPill product, a body wipe product for athletes that gives a person a quick way to get refreshed and move on to the next task.

Even though he had only 178 carries in his five years with the Seahawks, he played an important role in the Seahawks’ running game before and after the trade for Marshawn Lynch. Lynch was a first-round stud who didn’t live up to his skills with the Buffalo Bills. The Seahawks traded for him in 2010, and naturally there was an adjustment. It helped Lynch that Forsett, his former college teammate at Cal and one of his best friends, was in the locker room, though. It also helped that longtime NFL veteran backs Leon Washington and Michael Robinson were on the team.

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All three helped in turning Lynch’s career around. Forsett knew from his college days that Lynch was a freak of a running back. So did Washington, who I remember telling me that while most backs run strong to one side or the other, Lynch was different – he was as powerful going to the right as he was the left. With his power and take-no-prisoners style, Lynch destroyed tacklers if the circumstances were right.

For Pete Carroll, who was in his first year with the Seahawks, Lynch was the type of back he coveted. He wanted power. He wanted a physical identity. Lynch provided that, but not immediately. As a first-year Seahawk in 2010, Lynch averaged only 3.5 yards a carry after the trade from Buffalo, gaining 573 yards on 165 carries. He was making the adjustment.

The presence and support of Forsett, Robinson and Washington was huge for Lynch. Everyone knows he marches to a different drummer. Trust is a big thing in Lynch’s life. If he doesn’t trust a person, that person becomes a non-entity to him. Forsett had that trust – Lynch was even a groomsman in Forsett’s wedding – and Washington and Robinson kept Marshawn honest with their support of him.

By 2011, Lynch went full Beast Mode and became on the best backs in the league. He had four consecutive 1,200-plus yard seasons and averaged 12 touchdown runs a year. The Seahawks had one of the league’s best and most feared running attacks.

The promise of what Lynch could offer a running game led to Forsett not being with the Seahawks in 2011, however. He wasn’t re-signed, the reason being that the Seahawks and Carroll wanted to go to bigger backs.

While Forsett is 5 foot 8 and 197 pounds, when he got the ball he usually averaged better than 4.5-yards a carry. Still, he had to bounce around to different teams where he was great in the locker room and a good running option off the bench.

And yet he lasted nine years in the league. In fact, he even earned a Pro Bowl trip as a Baltimore Raven in 2014, his best season. That was when he rushed for 1,266 yards and eight touchdowns after being reunited with Gary Kubiak, who was his head coach in Houston in 2012 and took over as Baltimore’s offensive coordinator that year.

Forsett showed he could play. On Wednesday, he ended a nice career.

John Clayton on 710 ESPN Seattle
  • Tune in to 710 ESPN Seattle weekdays at 10am for John Clayton's show.