NEWARK, N.J. — So much attention was being directed at the man who preferred to stick to his own script of saying nothing. Media members — some armed with notepads and recorders and others with cameras and boom mikes — lined up 10 deep to get a glimpse of Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch Tuesday afternoon at the Prudential Center.
After six minutes and some interesting answers about his youth in Oakland, Lynch declared his talking portion of Super Bowl media day over.
“Y’all have a good day,” he said.
And a silly, surreal staring contest was on. For the next 54 minutes, Lynch said nothing, save for a brief, nonsensical interview with Deion Sanders and the NFL Network, as the masses gawked at him.
It’s too bad that Lynch, the best running back in this Super Bowl between the Seahawks and Denver Broncos, does not want to share his story because it’s a good one. Not nearly as good, however, as the one that was shared by a far lesser-known Seattle running back from Oakland on Tuesday afternoon.
Robert Turbin, in his second season out of Utah State, probably is never going to approach the level of stardom that Lynch has achieved since the Buffalo Bills made him a first-round pick in 2007. Lynch, on the other hand, has no chance of ever being as good a human being as Turbin, who is nicknamed “Hulk” because of his extraordinarily massive biceps.
That’s not meant as a knock on Lynch, either. Most of us would have broken down if we had to deal with Turbin’s life. He chose just to live it.
As a kid, Turbin watched his sister Trina die at 21 years old from multiple sclerosis. His other sister, Tiffany, who is now 33, was born with a severe form of cerebral palsy that has left her in a wheelchair. Turbin did what he could to help her.
“I’d just do the normal stuff,” he said. “The kind of stuff you’d do with a newborn baby like feed them and change their diaper. All that regular stuff.”
The sibling Turbin wanted to help the most was his older brother, Lonnie, who had driven Robert to constantly work out as a kid. Lonnie, however, had become a heroin addict, lost in a world that has ruined and claimed so many lives, including Garrett Reid, the son of former Eagles coach Andy Reid.
Lonnie Turbin did not die of an overdose like Reid’s oldest son. He was shot and killed in Oakland as his younger brother prepared for the NFL scouting combine in February 2012. Robert had hoped he would be able to take his brother away from Oakland after the NFL draft.
“I’m sure it was tough for coach Reid and his family when they went through it and I think in those situations you just come together as a family and you try to pick each other’s spirits up,” Turbin said. “That’s probably what his family did at the time.”
It is certainly what Robert Turbin did with the help of his father, Ronald.
“Yeah, my dad was solid,” Turbin said. “He was not a huge emotional guy. He was always focused on the day and focused on the now. That’s why we were able to get through stuff.”
Turbin, 24, was selected in the fourth round of the 2012 draft and has worked as Lynch’s understudy for the last two seasons. He insists his path to the NFL’s biggest game isn’t that much different than anyone else who spent media day on the home ice of the New Jersey Devils.
“I know that everybody has gone through something,” he said. “Some situation in life has helped them persevere and they want to get to a certain point more for somebody else than themselves. So I’m just grateful to be here along with some of these other guys.”
Turbin said he absolutely thought about his late sister and brother after the Seahawks beat San Francisco to clinch a spot in the Super Bowl.
“I thought about all the support I had from them through all these years,” he said. “To have this happen at such an early time in my career and to be a part of this is incredible. You just try to use those situations that you can’t control and you try to find ways to incorporate them in your life so they benefit you.
“You want to do stuff for them and not myself. If they were still living, I would want them to be able to see me and all the success I’ve had. Now that they’re gone, I want them to be able to see even more if they’re watching from anywhere. When tragedy happens, there has to be something that can happen to lift up everybody else’s spirit. I just wanted to be the guy to be able to do something positive to lift up everybody else’s spirit.”
Consider it done.