farewell to 24

It’s happened: I’m crying over a football player. And it’s not my husband.

Marshawn Lynch tied up his Seahawk-green cleats on Sunday, announcing his retirement from football. I’m not going to lie, I cried. This is only partly because I am a notorious over-cryer, and I get teary-eyed over dumb things like the American Family Insurance commercials with JJ Watt. But the fact is, professional football is a herculean sport that demands herculean effort and sacrifice – all the early days and long flights, the grueling physicality, the invasion of personal space and the never ending scrutiny from talking heads and common fans who could probably never stand 10 seconds in the literal or proverbial shoes of the athletes they love to hate. Over the years, I’ve learned enough about the sport of football to understand – or at least imagine – what it takes to make it, and what their successes represent. It’s a giant life reserved for the rare few who can truly do what it takes.

And they didn’t make them any rarer than they did Marshawn Lynch.

In my humble opinion, he is now the definition of the number 24 in Seahawks country, and there will never be another 24 quite like him. The sum of his experiences translated themselves into his unique style on the field; the Beast Quake run is his thumbprint, the end zone dive is his DNA. And for me, he will forever be the living legend who taught me – literally showed me – that you are not down until you are flat on the floor, back to the ground, knocked out cold, down. Until then, you fight the fight. You churn your legs. You dig your heels. You protect the ball. You keep your eyes on the goal. People will think you’re done, they’ll expect you to fall, they will look upon you waiting for you to fail; but failure is a choice you make, and so is victory. So choose victory. Choose to fight, to run, to barrel through your obstacles, to stiff-arm whatever comes your way. Choose courage. Choose hope. Choose to win.

At the bottom of this post is a rare full-length interview that Marshawn Lynch gave ESPN E60 some years ago. The quote right above it sums up everything I love about 24, everything that I learned from him, and everything that inspires me about him. This quote sheds some light on how Marshawn Lynch helped to make a fighter out of me. And as I said earlier, I’m a natural over-cryer and pretty much an overall little girl (I mean, my middle name literally means “little girl”), so turning someone like me into a fighter is no easy feat.

Then again, they don’t call him Beast Mode for no reason.

Thank you, Beast Mode. I hope you bring the noise and cause seismic activity wherever you go.

“Growing up, being from where I’m from, people don’t see the light. They didn’t see the light in that play. Run forward, ran into some trouble, being on food stamps, living in the projects…run ahead first into linebackers, start to play football, things opened up for me a little bit…breaking a couple more tackles; going to jail, getting in trouble…coming out of that, touchdown. I guess you could say that run is symbolic of my life.”

Marshawn Lynch, Beast Mode

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