Most Seahawks fans can’t get enough of Marshawn Lynch, even in retirement, and he provided one of the best glimpses into his character yet during his appearance on “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” earlier this week.
Lynch was alternately hilarious and philosophical, opening up to Grylls — who obviously knows little of American football and was not out to get anything from Lynch beyond his cooperation — as they bonded on a two-day trek through the Corsican Mountains.
During one rest stop along their journey, Grylls asked Lynch why he retired from the NFL.
“I’ve been doing this since I was 12, 13 years old. It starts to add up. Wear and tear,” Lynch said. “Full body. And mentally. Having to wake yourself up to go and put in all the work that it’s going to take. You know, the physical, the mental. The media starting to wear — all of it. It just all come together.”
Asked the highlight of his career, he said, “Most people don’t get to walk out or get to go out the way that I did, so that’s probably the biggest highlight.
“When it’s time, it’s time.”
Asked if there’s any part of the game he will miss, Lynch said, “Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna miss it, but to the point where I’m gonna go back? Nah. I’m gonna be all right.”
Grylls asked him what he would say to “a young guy in Oakland who really wants to make it, who wants to be the new Beast.”
Lynch said, “I’d ask him what his grades look like. Because the reality is 1 percent actually make it to the NFL, so if there’s something that’s going to happen, that’s going to be your backup plan.”
“I done played with guys who, on the first day in the NFL, have a career-ending injury. So, I mean, ain’t none of it promised. But I tell you, I had a backup plan, until that dream became a reality.”
Asked what his backup plan was, Lynch said, “My degree. Social welfare — basically what I’m doing right now with my foundation.
“We’re about empowering underprivileged youth in the inner city. Our biggest thing is we got babies killing babies from where I’m from right now. We get through to that one kid, who knows where he’ll end up? We do a lot for them: financial, literacy, we give scholarships.”
As for post-retirement, Lynch said he is looking forward to “just the journey of life.”
“I like to look at it in four quarters,” he said. “My first quarter would have been getting my mind right as a youngster. I would say second quarter would have been Pop Warner, high school, college. And going to the league was my third quarter. (Now I’m) going into the fourth quarter of my life, which is going to be the reality of what I really am and who I really am. And usually when you get to the fourth quarter, it’s usually a long one.”
Other great lines from Lynch:
As he prepared to be extracted by helicopter for the start of the trek, Lynch said: “I’m actually doing this because this was stepping out of the box for me — trying to get some experiences underneath my belt. And I won’t have the NFL calling and telling me I’m doing dangerous shit now that I have retired.”
Lynch, a city guy who never had done any mountain climbing or hiking, expressed second thoughts, telling Grylls early on: “I don’t think coming out here with you should have been my first move.”
Getting ready to hunt a wild hog with a knife affixed to a stick, Lynch explained: “We’re fixing to run up on a hog right now. We done made me a spear right quick — you know, a little MacGyver quick thing.”
Told hunting with a spear takes a little bit of courage and a little bit of skill, Lynch replied, “Yeah, I’ve got courage, but I ain’t got no skill.”
As they chased the hog, Lynch complimented Grylls on his athleticism: “Man, you quick though. You probably would do good on the (football) field if you move like that.”
Grylls had to persuade Lynch to climb down a 40-foot rock to claim the dead hog. Lynch finally relented, saying: “Bear ain’t so bad at his little pep talks — rah-rah-rah, rah-RAH rah-RAH — all that. You know what I’m sayin’?”
Lynch then didn’t want to cut up the hog, saying, “I just went down there to get this pig. Why you can’t chop it up? … That ain’t my style, man. Usually when I’m cutting my pig, it’s already fried or something. You feel me? That’s straight nasty. … I’m probably not going to eat another piece of pig ever again. No more swine. It’s over.”
Lynch didn’t want to share Grylls’ homemade shelter, so he put together his own bed of tree bows and said, “I’m a guest in your home. I don’t mind taking the guest room. I don’t need the master suite.”
On starting a fire, Lynch said: “Bruh cut off one of dreads to start a campfire and was juiced about it: ‘Oh my god, this is the best thing since sliced bread!'” But Lynch was pretty proud it worked, too, laughing the whole time.
When Lynch complained that the pig haunch they were cooking on the fire was not going to have any seasoning, Grylls brought out the treat that has become synonymous with Lynch: Skittles. Lynch explained to Grylls what all Seahawks fans know: Lynch’s mom used to give him Skittles to settle his stomach before games. Later that night, Lynch snuck back into the backpack for more.
At one point, Lynch had to cut a small tree so they could get down a narrow fissure. Lynch explained: “I got to use this 200-year-old Corsican machete. At first I was a little skeptical, like, ‘Damn this thing is hella rusty though.’ But that thing cut like a Ginsu. I felt like I was a Samurai warrior or something with a sword.”
During the next rest, Grylls talked about Lynch’s guarded nature, and Lynch said: “I’ve put a lot of trust in him that I haven’t put in a lot of people that I’ve dealt with — and I mean for many years.”