RENTON -- For the first time since his one-year retirement following the 2015 season, the Seahawks will face former Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch this Sunday in London.
Lynch and the Oakland Raiders will host the Seahawks at 10 a.m. PT in the first regular season game Seattle has played outside of North America.
While only eight players currently on Seattle's active roster played with Lynch during his time with the Seahawks, Lynch's affect is still noticeable inside the Virginia Mason Athletic Center.
"In a world full of people trying to project a facade of their life, Marshawn was very honest and true about who he was, and where he was. His honesty about himself," wide receiver Doug Baldwin said about the most memorable aspects of his former teammate
Baldwin, Justin Britt, Frank Clark, Tyler Lockett, J.R. Sweezy, Bobby Wagner, Russell Wilson and K.J. Wright are the only players that spent time with Lynch in Seattle still on the 53-man roster. Earl Thomas (injured reserve) and Kam Chancellor (reserve/PUP) also played with him with the Seahawks and Sebastian Janikowski, Jordan Simmons and Shalom Luani were teammates of Lynch in Oakland.
Lynch was beloved by his teammates even as he had a tendency to rankle other members of the organization.
"He was beloved in this locker room because of that," Baldwin said. "He would speak how he felt. If he was wrong, he would come back and apologize to the people he wronged, for the most part. You respected him for the man he was, not trying to act like something he wasn't. He didn't pretend with you guys in the media and come back to the locker room and act different. He was consistent in who he was throughout."
Lynch was also known for having a generous streak when it came to his teammates. He bought televisions for offensive linemen, gave away his equipment he was no longer using and more.
"Marshawn had a backpack and (a) young receiver was like ‘dang, that’s a nice backpack, where did you get it from?’ and he literally takes it off his back, dumps out all his stuff and says ‘here you can have it,’ grabbed his stuff and goes to his locker," Baldwin said. "Just as simple and plain as that, Marshawn it didn’t matter who you were if you respected and love him for him as a person and who he was he would literally give you his backpack off his back. I thought that was just the epitome of the man that he was."
Upon further prodding, Baldwin said that he was the receiver in the story.
"I just liked the color," he said.
Of course, Lynch's running style on the field also won him support in the locker room.
"Marshawn is just the type of dude that never went down," Sweezy said. "He knew we were right behind him and so it made you want to go a little extra because you knew he was going to be standing up and you could push that pile extra 4-5 yards."
Whether it was the BeastQuake run in the 2010 NFC playoffs, the encore run in Arizona years later, or countless other runs where Lynch stayed on his field surging for extra yardage when most backs would have gone down, Lynch's determination on the field was awe inspiring to watch.
"In the media he's kind of a quiet guy and what not, but he really cares about his teammates. He's a great guy and he really respects the game in my opinion. Just a great overall guy, not only a football play. I just have a lot of respect for him as man," Sweezy said.
Added Baldwin: "He was a savant when it came to his position on the football field. He could read defenses getting off the bus. It was incredible, and his memory, his recall for certain plays and for certain situations. Now he’ll play with you guys and act like he doesn’t know that because he doesn’t want to talk about it. He tries to be humble in that way, modest in that way. But he’s a savant when it comes to that stuff.
"And then his toughness was unprecedented. The man took so much of a beating but was there day in and day out. And then his enthusiasm and effort obviously jumped off the tape. So he epitomized everything that we stand for here in Seattle."
That doesn't mean he didn't have his drawbacks either.
Head coach Pete Carroll was asked Tuesday about Lynch being a handful for every coach he's ever played for. Carroll interjected saying "I don’t know if that’s the case... I wasn’t there in Buffalo."
Relations with team personnel soured through the years. He flipped a middle finger to offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell on the sidelines in Arizona. Lynch rarely participated in offseason practices in his latter years with the team. He elected not to travel with the team to Minnesota for a playoff game against the Vikings in January, 2016 after practicing all week and the team expecting him to play after a return from abdominal surgery.
"When he got here, he got a fresh start. Man, he took the opportunity and went with it and fit in," Carroll said of Lynch. "... He grew a lot with us and so we just went through a lot together. I have tremendous respect for that guy and it’ll be fun playing against him. I like playing against guys I like."
In the end, Baldwin says that conclusion to Lynch's time in Seattle didn't effect his view of who Lynch is.
"It’s football you know" he said. "I know that I’m looking at all of you right, you guys make a big deal out of football, but truth be told at the end of the day when we are on our deathbeds, football means nothing. It really means nothing at the end of the day. I was talking to KJ about this earlier today, I don’t care how many tackles he makes or how any interceptions he has, I want to know is he a good husband, is he a good father for his children, those are the most important things. So honestly I don’t really care about how it ended."
He's also not surprised that Lynch returned after a one-year hiatus.
"I think the thing that the missed most was the locker room," Baldwin said. "He missed being around guys who are like-minded, who are striving for something. That part is hard to separate yourself from when you’re away from the game."
While the Seahawks have played the Raiders each of the last two years in the preseason with Lynch on the roster, Lynch has not appeared in those games. Sunday will be the first chance his former teammates will have to play Lynch in another uniform.
Neither linebacker K.J. Wright or defensive end Rasheem Green will be able to return to play this week against the Oakland Raiders.
Carroll said Green is still a couple of weeks away from being able to get going again. Green sustained an ankle sprain in the team's win over Dallas.
Meanwhile, Wright won't make it back for this week's game and they'll hold him through the team's bye next week before trying to get him back on the field. Wright had surgery on his knee the final week of the preseason and has been sidelined ever since.
As the typical week of practice runs Wednesday-Friday, the Seahawks did not need to put out a practice report today. From limited viewing of practice, there were no glaring absences from warmups.
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 23: (L-R) Marshawn Lynch #24 and Doug Baldwin #89 of the Seattle Seahawks celebrate after Lynch scored a 9-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Qwest Field on December 23, 2012 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)