Spree pundits opine on the local
Apr 6, 2010
01:05 PMState of Play
Marshawn Lynch's final chance
I was willing to give Marshawn Lynch the benefit of the doubt. Really, I was, as I said when I posted in January about his future as a Buffalo Bill. Now for the really ridiculous part: I still am, at least as a tailback anyway.
Call me delusional, naive ... call me things we can't put on this site. Or call me a blatant apologist for a guy who's clearly worn out his welcome here. I guess you'd be spot-on calling me all those things, maybe worse.
But I still find myself standing by this apparent manchild, so steadfastly I might get a contact buzz.
And while stand there like a fool because of his talent alone, too many bridges may have been burned beyond repair. Character matters, both in the locker room and in the community. Lynch has effectively exiled himself from ever getting completely back into the good graces of Western New Yorkers, becoming everything we hate in today's pro athletes: a purported "adult" trapped in suspended adolescence who acts on impulses of self-destruction that make Sid Vicious look like a Franciscan monk.
Last week The Bust, er, Beast, failed to show up for offseason conditioning workouts with the Bills. I'm not sure if the workout was voluntary or not--it's impossible to tell these days without a Lawyerese-to-English dictionary written by the guys who hashed out the NFL's expiring collective bargaining agreement.
But isn't it time Lynch realizes it's fourth-and-long and getting perilously late in the game of salvaging his career? Running backs are a dime a dozen; teams can snag their franchise guy in the eighth round these days, and with Lynch's bulldozer-stuck-in-fifth-gear style, figure he's got four, maybe five years left at a position with such a short shelf life.
In short, he should view every workout, voluntary or not, as a chance to salvage a badly corroded career and professional reputation not only here in Buffalo, but in the NFL. Doesn't Lynch realize that without an NFL contract, he'd be hustling on the streets of Oakland? Can you picture him coaching at the Pop Warner level, let alone carving out a post-playing career in the pros? Heck, I wouldn't trust him to mop floors at the Kwikee-Mart.
That leaves Lynch with three years' worth of income earning left in his life unless he gets his act together, and quickly. Make that two-and-a-half if he gets pinched during another blunt sesh in the back of his pals' Escalade. He's a 12th-overall pick who lost his job to a former NFL Europe castoff, and has only himself to blame for it. It's bad enough he can't stay out of trouble off the field, but last year's lackluster season on the field is the really troubling part. Surely during this critical offseason he'd have realized just how replaceable he is. Guess not.
If he demands a trade or pouts over his predicament, he might be shocked to find how few suitors will come calling. It's just a shame that Lynch will be the last one to discover it. Of course, it'd be a different if he didn't have the trade value of a rust-riddled 1988 Ford Escort. And since it's unlikely the Bills would--or even could--deal him, Lynch owes it to the organization and himself, to put it in terms he'd actually understand, to get to Buffalo and join his team.
I've learned some things about Lynch with his latest misstep. He'll never be one of the good guys, not even someone who might at least put up the facade of being an upstanding professional. In that sense, maybe it's asking too much for him to "man up," akin to asking Lady Gaga to perform chamber music for the local Mothers Club.
But when the smoke clears (OK, I promise that's the last weed joke), he does have one thing going for him: he ranges from effective runner to absolute nightmare for defenses, and when he's focused on football he's shown he will give you everything he's got and more to blast away for yardage and score the odd touchdown.
Even if he does return to form, he might be gone by 2013, if not sooner. And Bills fans, having grown all too accustomed to failed draft choices, won't care much and easily move on. But in the short term, Lynch has a shot at getting back on the field and helping this team win some games this year. Buffalo could turn the page on a downright miserable decade and start fresh, and Lynch could be a part of that.
He can use the Bills to relaunch a reeling career that's one brush with the law away from becoming a sad footnote. The Bills, in turn, can use him to bolster what's sure to be a running-based offense and perhaps make some noise in the next season or two. It's not a perfect situation, but few of us get perfection in our professional lives, yet we churn out that proverbial lemonade.
I just hope that's not too much of a grown-up concept for Lynch to grasp.