Marshawn Lynch, the iconic former NFL running back known for his powerful running style and colorful personality, recently opened up about a pivotal moment in his college football career at the University of California, Berkeley. In a candid conversation with Shannon Sharpe on Club Shay Shay, Lynch revealed how none other than Aaron Rodgers played a crucial role in his rise to stardom at Cal.
As Lynch reminisced about his time at Cal during a podcast interview, he reflected on the challenges he faced as a freshman entering a competitive college football program. The odds were stacked against him as he joined a team with an established running back who had rushed for 1,500 yards the previous season and an impressive 2,000 yards in Lynch’s freshman year.
“I remember we had our spring game, and I’m just a freshman. The first team is playing against the first team, and out of nowhere, they put number 24 in there,” Lynch recalled. “I was thinking, ‘Why are they giving this freshman a shot?’ We had some older guys who hadn’t even gotten a carry.”
Lynch’s introduction to the field that day would be memorable for all the wrong reasons. The play called was “24 Power,” and Lynch found himself heading in the wrong direction. Instead of following the designated path, he executed what he called “24 Rip.”
To his surprise, Lynch managed to score a touchdown on the play. However, his elation was short-lived as his running back coach confronted him with a stern rebuke. Lynch’s coach emphasized the importance of accountability, despite the successful outcome. “You scored, but you’ve got to do things right around here,” the coach insisted.
Just as Lynch was about to face the consequences of his mistake, Aaron Rodgers, who was the quarterback at the time, stepped in to take responsibility. Rodgers, displaying remarkable sportsmanship and leadership, admitted that the mishap was his fault. He defended Lynch, telling the coach, “No, no, no, that was me.”
Lynch was astonished by Rodgers’s act of selflessness. “I had never seen a quarterback vouch for a running back like that,” Lynch said. “He had gotten me out of a jam by handing me the ball on some back-door play, and now he was solid like that.”
Rodgers’s unwavering support for Lynch created a profound sense of trust between them. It was the beginning of a special connection that would extend far beyond this incident. Rodgers would frequently instruct Lynch to line up as a receiver and, when he recognized advantageous matchups, would tell him to run deep routes. This newfound trust resulted in successful plays and a flourishing on-field partnership.
Reflecting on Rodgers’s impact on his career, Lynch remarked, “A-Rod really put me in the mix. We built that trust with each other.” This trust, built on Rodgers’s belief in Lynch’s abilities and his willingness to take risks, paved the way for Lynch to become a key contributor to the Cal offense.
As Lynch concluded his story, he acknowledged Rodgers as one of the best quarterbacks he ever played with. He admired Rodgers’s exceptional talent and leadership qualities, which helped transform Lynch from a freshman with potential into a collegiate football star.
Marshawn Lynch’s journey at Cal serves as a testament to the power of teamwork, mentorship, and the ability to admit mistakes in the pursuit of greatness. The unexpected bond between Lynch and Rodgers not only propelled their respective careers but also left an indelible mark on the world of football.