Gibson began his first training camp in Berkeley focused on not redshirting, and that’s when Lynch, a few months before he chosen 12th in the 2007 NFL draft, walked up to the brawny Gibson.
“He came up to me and he said, 'You know what? You can play this game. You’re good enough to, so start acting like it,’” Gibson remembers. “And who am I? I’m just a junior college offensive lineman who ended up going to Cal. So, that just shows the person that he is.”
Being teammates at Cal and then with the Seattle Seahawks from 2010-2011 gave Gibson, a Cardinals backup offensive lineman, a unique glimpse into who Lynch is. To the public, he’s a Skittles-eating, defense-crushing smashmouth running back in the NFL. To Gibson, he’s just another friend to crack on.
Their relationship has stayed strong despite their different locales.
When Seattle acquired Lynch in a 2010 trade with Buffalo, as soon as he walked into the locker room he yelled over the Gibson and gave the lineman a hug.
“That alone gives you a perspective of what kind of person he is,” Gibson said. “And so that’s how that relationship’s grown.”
Gibson signed with the Cardinals in 2012, and when Seattle came to Arizona in October, Gibson took every opportunity to razz Lynch and the Beast didn’t waste any opportunity to dish it right back. A lot of words were exchanged and even some gestures. But every time, they ended with laughs.
One thing Gibson said about Lynch is that he’s not who a lot of people think he is.
Born in East Oakland, Calif., Lynch still calls the area home in the offseason, Gibson said, and he tries to give back as much as he can. Gibson remembers Lynch putting on charity events back in Oakland.
“When you sit and you talk to him, he’s just a good person,” Gibson said. “I think a lot of people sometimes get the wrong impression because he’s made a few mistakes. I think he’s learned from them and I think he’s become a better person for it. He’s a guy that you can go talk to about anything.
“I don’t think people have that perspective of him. I think they have him as a kid from East Oakland who doesn’t appreciate what he has and he appreciates everything he has. His whole motto is ‘family first.’”
No matter how well Gibson knows and likes Lynch, his favorite story about Lynch came in college. After beating Washington 31-24 in overtime on Oct. 21, 2006, Lynch hopped in an injury cart and started driving around the field. It was right around the same time that ghost riding the whip was becoming a fad around the Bay Area, Gibson recalls.
So, Lynch ghost rode the whip.
“That was my first Marshawn experience,” Gibson said. “That’s really funny.”