EXCLUSIVE: Marshawn Lynch Talks Beast Mode, Fashion and Tom Brady’s Wife

Maxim had a nice long chat with the notoriously media-shy Seahawks running back.

On Tuesday evening, a few hours after spending his Super Bowl Media Day appearance repeating the phrase, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” 29 times in 4 minutes and 38 seconds, Seattle Seahawks Running Back Marshawn Lynch hopped on the phone with Maxim. The agreed-upon subject was his forthcoming Beast Mode active streetwear line, a topic he’s more than happy to discuss at length. But he had other thoughts as well. 

Under the direction of Lynch and Christopher Bevans, who honed his talent at Nike and later oversaw the Billionaire Boys Club line, the first Beast Mode collection will make its debut this coming fall. Lynch isn’t sketching silhouettes or debating hemlines, but he is providing the overall vision for the nascent brand. “He might not know the name of a fabric, but he knows what he likes, and we build programs around those and take it to the next level,” Bevans, who has previously worked with Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, told Maxim. The one topic Lynch asked not to discuss: football. On that front, he lets his play — 1,306 yards rushing and 13 TDs this season — speak for him. Still, he’s a surprisingly talkative guy. Here’s the transcript of the conversation.

Hey, Marshawn?

Hey. What’s going on, Chief?

Thanks for doing this. I know you’re not at all busy this week.

[Laughs] I wish that were the case.

Describe Beast Mode for us.

It’s the drive, the will, you know, to not be stopped no matter what it is you do in life. It’s bigger than a football game. It’s something that I apply to my everyday life. It’s more than just a phrase — it’s something that I’ve wrapped my mind around and grasped and am completely in tune with.

When did you realize that the Beast Mode idea went beyond football?

This is how I know: I went to Starbucks and there was a guy in there working. I don’t drink coffee, but he was in there putting together some mocha lattes or something. And he saw me and he was like, ‘Beast Mode, this for you! I’m going into Beast Mode!’ This guy was mixing up whatever coffee drinks he makes. I was just like, ‘Damn, this is a guy who’s  taking his job and maximizing it to best of his potential.’ And I realized that’s exactly what Beast Mode is. It’s something off the field that can come out of just anybody or that is just in somebody.

When I go speak to these kids through my foundation and am able to sit down and tell them some of the things that I’ve been through, they can look up and relate to me and they can understand the feelings I had that are similar to what they’re going through and feeling. They can connect to me and the conversations we can have, it’s not something you can just make up. Beast Mode ain’t something you can sugarcoat or water down. It’s all just natural.

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How’d the phrase become both your nickname and your motto?

When I was younger, playing Pop Warner, my coach and Delisa [his mother] used to call me ‘Man Child.’ I was a little scrawny dude. To see me actually playing with the kind of heart that I have and how physical I was, she used to say, ‘That boy a man child.’ As I got older, it evolved and one of my boys said, ‘Damn boy, you a straight beast.’ And then it just kind of formed into that, you know.

I’m a beast, and when I’m doing what I’m out there to do, that’s that mode I’m in, so I guess I’m in beast mode. When it really hit home for me is when the artist Lil Boosie had a song that hit at the same time I was getting into this Beast Mode thing and it started picking up and started rocking. I’m like, ‘Shit, that’s my song there.’ I identified with it. It was almost like I was having a conversation with this man, connecting with his song, and from there it just took off and went to a whole other level. Now, I got little kids running around talking about Beast Mode; people in corporate offices talking about Beast Mode. I got the dude at Starbucks making lattes talking about Beast Mode. It was something that just caught on, and it was real good because anybody can identify. You ain’t got to be black, white, an athlete, male or a woman or an adult. When you get that mindset and you stick with it, that’s just what happens.

Do you do anything specific to get in the Beast Mode headspace?

Nah. It’s just who I am. It’s not like I got to do nothing different besides be myself. 

Photo: Steve Dykes/ Getty Images 

No doubt looking good helps.

It’s like what Deion [Sanders] said a long time ago, ‘When you look good, you feel good and you play good.’ I mean, just in a fashion sense, I feel I like I got my own style. With Beast Mode clothing, I also get to bring a little bit of my twist and myself to something that other people can have.

Now, I’ve been a Nike athlete since day one. There’s a few of their projects that they put out that I had a hand in, and I saw people liked the designs. I was telling them to use this type of fabric right here, and the feedback that I got from it — and then to see it on a shoe or clothes — that was pretty big. So, with the Beast Mode clothing line, I had the opportunity to go ahead and put my official stamp on it. It will be something that I know that a lot of people are going to like as well as me. And it’s comfortable.

Do you think you’ll go into other areas of merchandising, like maybe fragrances or energy drinks?

I mean with the trademark, since I do own it, there’s nothing that’s out of bounds or something I wouldn’t look into. I’m just somebody trying to make it, who didn’t know I could step outside my boundaries and cross a couple of lines and go meetings with guys like Chris. And I have guys backing me like Relativity and all the guys I have helping me on my thing. So if it’s something we feel we can capitalize on, that would be an option we might take. I feel this is something we could blow out and make big.

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How important is style to you?

When I step out and I put on some Beast Mode it’s a representation of myself. I want it to look nice. I want it to look right. I want people to say, ‘Where can I get that?’ So it’s important.

You didn’t have much money growing up. Remember your first big splurge?

About a year ago, I bought a Lambo.

Who were the big influences on your taste?

I kind of had my own style. Growing up in Oakland, we did things like white t-shirt, blue jeans and Nikes. That was my get down, how I was going to rock. And if you look at me right now, I’m pretty much black tee, blue jeans and some sneakers. So I wouldn’t say too much has changed – just maybe fresher jeans and a fresher polo shirt. You know what I’m saying? Not a $5 shirt from the corner store no more.

A few decades ago, athletes would have turned their nose up at fashion and vice versa. Now the two industries seem completely entwined. 

Big time. Whenever you turn on the TV, they got something to do with an athlete and what he’s wearing, what he’s got on. That’s the feeling I want. I wouldn’t call it a gap, but athletes have a huge impact on fashion, and if you see your favorite athlete in something, nine times out of ten you’re going to go out and try to get it.

How did you and Chris team up?

It’s crazy having the opportunity to get to meet him, because just looking through my closet, this is a dude who damn near designed every article of clothing in there. I was like, ‘Shit, what’s going on?’ He reached out to me via email. Like I said, the relationship just started. My agent switched over to Relativity, and we kind of just had the same representation. And he’s a fashion guru and he told me something about the Beast Mode stuff: He was ready to go take it to another level.

He’s sitting right here with a Beast Mode hoodie on that I do not own myself. But since he came on, you could see the change. And I’m not even talking about just the fashion and the clothes – just the whole demeanor of what Beast Mode means. I can say he’s helped bring it to life.

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What did you tell him you wanted in terms of design?

A guy of his stature, you don’t give a guy like that guidelines. You limit him when you do stuff like that, and that’s not what I’m looking for. When I first got the opportunity to actually talk to him, we had a conversation and he gave me some background on himself. I gave him some background on me. We were like-minded and enough was said after that. 

You do a lot of work with kids. Will they be able to afford Beast Mode? 

For the kids, I would like to make it real accessible.

So give us a few fashion tips.

Well, I wouldn’t put on women’s pants, like skinny pants. But, you know, whatever you feel comfortable in. That’s my thing. 

Good advice. Last question: What do you think of Tom Brady’s style?

Well, Tom’s wife certainly has fantastic style. As for Tom, I would like to see how he looks in some Beast Mode!


Photos by AP Photo/ Ted S. Warren