BY Art Thiel 04:18PM 07/17/2012

Thiel: Seahawks already burned by Lynch risk

Seahawks bet a lot on RB Marshawn Lynch ($18 million) delivering big numbers, but they weren’t anticipating numbers above .08. Talk about a burn.

The Seahawks season just became a lot more difficult with the DUI arrest of Marshawn Lynch. / Drew Sellers, Sportspress Northwest

After signing his big contract extension with the Seahawks in March, Marshawn Lynch certainly has the money to hire a tough lawyer who might beat back the DUI charge he was stuck with over the weekend in Oakland.

What I don’t get was why Lynch didn’t spend the tiniest fraction of that sum on a cab, a limo, or a sober member of his entourage who could drive him, especially at 3:30 in the morning, a time when good things are disinclined to happen.

Of all the misdeeds common to athletes off the field, this one has the easiest prevention. Lynch’s apparent failure to prevent — the police report said Lynch, alone in a Ford van, was weaving across lanes on I-880 and nearly collided with two other vehicles — is pure numbskull, leavened only by the fact that no one was hurt or killed.

And it makes his employers look foolish, insofar as they knew they were taking a risk in March by signing ANY running back to a four-year, $31 million extension ($18 million guaranteed), let alone one with Lynch’s history.

In Buffalo, where he was a first-round draft pick by the Bills in the 2007 draft, he was busted in 2008 for striking a woman pedestrian with his car. He said he didn’t notice, but a judge revoked his driver’s license. In 2009, he had a weapons charge reduced to a misdemeanor, but was suspended for three games by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

Now that history gets revisited with a fresh episode, which does not require conviction for Goodell, aka The Hangman, to act. The collective bargaining agreement with the players union holds players to a higher standard. The personal conduct policy says, “It is not enough to be found not guilty,” and requires players act in a lawful manner.

As was seen in “Bountygate” involving the New Orleans Saints’ pay-per-hurt program, Goodell believes he has wide latitude to act as judge and jury for the league’s best interests, independent of the court system findings. Goodell alone can determine “conduct deterimental” in the absence of any crime.

It’s not clear how Goodell will rule, since Lynch does get some credit for time between episodes. But if a misdemeanor charge was worth three games to Goodell in 2009, which was before he went Yosemite Sam on player misbehavior, then logic dictates a greater punishment now for Lynch, because Goodell is all about sending messages, typically with blunt force.

From a football-results standpoint, a four- to six-game suspension of their star running back hits the Seahawks right where they want to live — the running game. Most of the 2011 season and the off-season were directed toward making the Seahawks a premier power-rushing team. The investments made in the offensive line and at tight end, and the relatively light commitment at quarterback, meant this team was going to deploy its most ferocious weapon, Lynch, and reward him for it.

Now he could miss a big chunk of the season, for no good reason. Injuries are inevitable, stupidity is not.

In re-upping Lynch with large coin, the biggest worry was how he would respond. During  off-season workouts, it appeared that Lynch had already gained weight, and not from power-lifting. Nor was it a secret that reserve running back Justin Forsett, also from Cal, had value to the Seahawks as Lynch’s pal, confidant and righteous valet. A devout Christian and one of the game’s straight arrows, Forsett seemed to be the conscience of which Lynch occasionally lost track.

But Forsett was allowed to leave in free agency and signed with Houston. There’s no way to link what happened Saturday in Oakland to Forsett’s absence, but any insurance he helped provide the Seahawks on the $18 million guaranteed to Lynch is gone.

At the time of the 2010 midseason trade to Seattle from Buffalo for the relatively modest return of fourth- and fifth-round picks, the deal seemed a steal, particularly when Lynch became a bit of a folk hero for his magnificent 67-yard touchdown run in the playoff game against the Saints.

But the Bills execs, perhaps for reasons beyond what has been disclosed, felt the deal was worth it just to avoid the potential for the dreaded 4 a.m. call from the team attorney.

The Seahawks did create a little insurance in the draft when they took Robert Turbin in the fourth round. The running back with the giant biceps from Utah State, where he was the Western Athletic Conference player of the year, is a bruiser who has to be considered the favorite to start, given what is known at the moment about the running back spot.

The Seahawks could pursue, less than two weeks before the start of training camp July 28, a more veteran running back, or pick one up on cut-down day before the regular season begins.

But they already have enough mysteries on the offensive side of the ball. Now one of the surest things becomes a mystery. For no reason at all.


YourThoughts

  • Jamo57

    Awesome column, Art!

  • Jamo57

    Awesome column, Art!

  • Tian Biao

    Japan, man, I wish i was there. the atmosphere sounds incredible. awesome, even . . . keep us posted, Art!

  • Tian Biao

    Japan, man, I wish i was there. the atmosphere sounds incredible. awesome, even . . . keep us posted, Art!

  • jafabian

    Ichiro gets four hits but only 1 RBI.  No matter where he hits despite the fact he’s the best hitter on the club it doesn’t help if no one’s on base.

  • jafabian

    Ichiro gets four hits but only 1 RBI.  No matter where he hits despite the fact he’s the best hitter on the club it doesn’t help if no one’s on base.

  • http://twitter.com/ingram1225 William Ingram

    good article and take on the whole thing. 

  • http://twitter.com/ingram1225 William Ingram

    good article and take on the whole thing. 

  • Will

    Yosemite Sam …heh heh heh, that’s very descriptive.

    As for Lynch … Oh goody, another pro player with the twins buttons of “I’m an Idiot” and “Self-destruct”.

  • Will

    Yosemite Sam …heh heh heh, that’s very descriptive.

    As for Lynch … Oh goody, another pro player with the twins buttons of “I’m an Idiot” and “Self-destruct”.

  • zippy

     multi-game suspension for an off-season DUI? — NFL is going way too boyscout– let the beasts play!

  • zippy

     multi-game suspension for an off-season DUI? — NFL is going way too boyscout– let the beasts play!

  • Bongotodd63

    It could be very well that he was not intoxicated, might have a drink on his breath and that he was just a black man driving in Oakland.  Just saying and I am white. And Thiel your the guy that also praises Lynch when he does well on the field. People make mistakes and stop being the Judge and Jury, DICK…

  • Bongotodd63

    It could be very well that he was not intoxicated, might have a drink on his breath and that he was just a black man driving in Oakland.  Just saying and I am white. And Thiel your the guy that also praises Lynch when he does well on the field. People make mistakes and stop being the Judge and Jury, DICK…

  • jafabian

    Lynch needs a wake up call.  As Goodell once said, playing in the NFL is not a right but a privilege.   Didn’t like letting Forestt go for the very reasons Art states here:  he was one of the straight arrows of the team of whom I once had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a church.  On a team where ability and accomplishments can sometimes overshadow transgressions the Hawks need to keep some of those types of personalities around to keep things in balance.

  • jafabian

    Lynch needs a wake up call.  As Goodell once said, playing in the NFL is not a right but a privilege.   Didn’t like letting Forestt go for the very reasons Art states here:  he was one of the straight arrows of the team of whom I once had the pleasure of hearing him speak at a church.  On a team where ability and accomplishments can sometimes overshadow transgressions the Hawks need to keep some of those types of personalities around to keep things in balance.

  • Kevin

    Robert Turbin better explode on the scene… or else the Hawks are a one-dimensional offense that just turned no-dimensional. 

  • Kevin

    Robert Turbin better explode on the scene… or else the Hawks are a one-dimensional offense that just turned no-dimensional. 

  • PokeyPuffy

    gosh, didn’t think about suspensions, it really is bad news!  Getting the most out of undervalued, wayward players like Lynch is supposed to be Carroll’s strength….whaat happened?

  • PokeyPuffy

    gosh, didn’t think about suspensions, it really is bad news!  Getting the most out of undervalued, wayward players like Lynch is supposed to be Carroll’s strength….whaat happened?

  • OffTheLows

    There’s no history outside of Donte Stallworth that I’ve seen for players to be suspended for DUI, and his of course included a manslaughter. Raheem Brock had a DUI and a dine and dash incident and never was suspended and there wasn’t even discussion in the media of a potential suspension. Everything I read seems to be fait accompli that before charges, before a court date, before a potential trial (which would likely be in 2013), Lynch will be suspended at least 3 games, even though DUI history throughout the league indicates that even a single game suspension is rare. Reporters and commentators seem to have an agenda to push this belief while completely ignoring past precedent.

  • OffTheLows

    There’s no history outside of Donte Stallworth that I’ve seen for players to be suspended for DUI, and his of course included a manslaughter. Raheem Brock had a DUI and a dine and dash incident and never was suspended and there wasn’t even discussion in the media of a potential suspension. Everything I read seems to be fait accompli that before charges, before a court date, before a potential trial (which would likely be in 2013), Lynch will be suspended at least 3 games, even though DUI history throughout the league indicates that even a single game suspension is rare. Reporters and commentators seem to have an agenda to push this belief while completely ignoring past precedent.

  • notaboomer

    cut lynch. raise ticket and beer prices. put all games on premium cable to pay for it. win-win. except for the average fan of course but who cares about us?

  • notaboomer

    cut lynch. raise ticket and beer prices. put all games on premium cable to pay for it. win-win. except for the average fan of course but who cares about us?

  • Matt712

    The facts will exonerate Marshawn. This is what really happened…

    Marshawn had spent the entire day in 90 degree heat with his church group putting a new roof on a homeless shelter which he had funded after his contract extension. And, as you can imagine, he and the rest of the flock had worked up a mighty thirst. So Marshawn dispatched his nephew, who had just turned 21 two days prior, to the local supermarket, giving him money to buy everyone lemonade. As the boy turned to leave, Marshawn told him to hurry, saying, “Hurry up, man! Go hard like I do!”

    Misunderstanding the “Go hard!” reference, the youngster returned with several cases of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Now, neither Marshawn nor the rest of the faithful laborers, being so entrenched in their Christian lifestyles, even knew what Mike’s Hard Lemonade was. But they did know one thing: it was ice cold and had a pretty yellow & black label with a lemon on it ! Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a Hard Lemonade on a 90 degree day, but I can tell you, it goes down pretty darned quick and you cannot taste the alcohol. ….Marshawn proceeded to drink a case and a half by himself.

    Believe it or not, this level of consumption barley even phased him. Remember, this is a man who eats a 1 lb. bag of Skittles just to warm up for practice. So, not surprisingly, he thought it was simply a combination of his usual sugar buzz and the sweltering heat that had tampered with his equilibrium. Nevertheless, there was still much work to be done on that roof. But, as Marshawn strapped his tool belt back on and hollered at his fellow parishioners to join him, he noticed that they had all passed out on the shelter’s front lawn.

    Instead of quitting right then and there, Marshawn decided to do what he (long before Greg Jennings) had always done: put the team on his back. Marshawn worked into the night with only the street lights to guide his hammer, re-roofing that homeless shelter  until 2:30 AM. He only stopped every ten minutes or so to hydrate himself with more of that delicious lemonade.

    He then climbed down and loaded his still comatose Christians into the church van and proceeded to drive each of them safely home. After tucking the last one into bed at around 3:30, he finally staggered slowly back to the van and headed home himself. He was so exhausted he could barely keep his eyes open. And that’s when the flashing blue lights appeared in his rear view mirror.

    So, you see, it was all just a big misunderstanding. The real tragedy here is that, some in Oakland =, there’s a homeless shelter with a really poorly built roof.

  • Matt712

    The facts will exonerate Marshawn. This is what really happened…

    Marshawn had spent the entire day in 90 degree heat with his church group putting a new roof on a homeless shelter which he had funded after his contract extension. And, as you can imagine, he and the rest of the flock had worked up a mighty thirst. So Marshawn dispatched his nephew, who had just turned 21 two days prior, to the local supermarket, giving him money to buy everyone lemonade. As the boy turned to leave, Marshawn told him to hurry, saying, “Hurry up, man! Go hard like I do!”

    Misunderstanding the “Go hard!” reference, the youngster returned with several cases of Mike’s Hard Lemonade. Now, neither Marshawn nor the rest of the faithful laborers, being so entrenched in their Christian lifestyles, even knew what Mike’s Hard Lemonade was. But they did know one thing: it was ice cold and had a pretty yellow & black label with a lemon on it ! Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had a Hard Lemonade on a 90 degree day, but I can tell you, it goes down pretty darned quick and you cannot taste the alcohol. ….Marshawn proceeded to drink a case and a half by himself.

    Believe it or not, this level of consumption barley even phased him. Remember, this is a man who eats a 1 lb. bag of Skittles just to warm up for practice. So, not surprisingly, he thought it was simply a combination of his usual sugar buzz and the sweltering heat that had tampered with his equilibrium. Nevertheless, there was still much work to be done on that roof. But, as Marshawn strapped his tool belt back on and hollered at his fellow parishioners to join him, he noticed that they had all passed out on the shelter’s front lawn.

    Instead of quitting right then and there, Marshawn decided to do what he (long before Greg Jennings) had always done: put the team on his back. Marshawn worked into the night with only the street lights to guide his hammer, re-roofing that homeless shelter  until 2:30 AM. He only stopped every ten minutes or so to hydrate himself with more of that delicious lemonade.

    He then climbed down and loaded his still comatose Christians into the church van and proceeded to drive each of them safely home. After tucking the last one into bed at around 3:30, he finally staggered slowly back to the van and headed home himself. He was so exhausted he could barely keep his eyes open. And that’s when the flashing blue lights appeared in his rear view mirror.

    So, you see, it was all just a big misunderstanding. The real tragedy here is that, some in Oakland =, there’s a homeless shelter with a really poorly built roof.

  • Steven

    Saw this posted on the Field Gulls blog:

    https://twitter.com/RossTuckerNFL/with_replies

    Apparently a suspension for a substance abuse violation might void the guaranteed portion of Marshawn’s contract. If true, that may soften the blow to the Seahawks, and would ratchet up the pressure on Marshawn to earn his contract if he wants to continue getting paid.

  • Steven

    Saw this posted on the Field Gulls blog:

    https://twitter.com/RossTuckerNFL/with_replies

    Apparently a suspension for a substance abuse violation might void the guaranteed portion of Marshawn’s contract. If true, that may soften the blow to the Seahawks, and would ratchet up the pressure on Marshawn to earn his contract if he wants to continue getting paid.

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