RENTON, Wash. (AP) — Marshawn Lynch might be “Beast Mode,” but he’s no ninja.
That title in the Seattle Seahawks locker room belongs to the punter.
“If you look at him, he’s built like a linebacker,” Seattle wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. “He’s definitely not your stereotypical punter.”
No, Jon Ryan is not like other punters. From throwing a touchdown pass in the NFC championship game, to his appearance on the TV show American Ninja Warrior, to his engagement to popular comedian Sarah Colonna, Ryan has received more attention in the past seven months than most punters receive in their careers.
The redheaded Canadian even acquired a nickname almost the equal to Lynch’s unique moniker. Ryan is the “Ginja Ninja.”
“I think I get recognized more. It’s a very (highly) watched television program,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how many viewers they get, millions of viewers, so maybe some notoriety from some groups that maybe don’t watch the NFL every Sunday.”
Now entering his eighth season with the Seahawks, Ryan is one of Seattle’s more engaging personalities. But his exposure was taken to another level when he took part in the TV show during the offseason, showing that punters do more than just kick the football on fourth down.
Ryan was first asked by producers if he would participate following the 2013 season, when the Seahawks beat Denver to win their first Super Bowl title. They were drawn to his unique personality that came through on social media. Ryan balked then, but when they asked again after last season, he decided to give it a shot.
“I was like, ‘Well, they keep on coming, I might as well do it,’ ” he said.
Ryan first drew attention to his ninja adventure in the offseason when he posted a picture on Twitter of him working out in Southern California and training for the show. Ryan added a few new wrinkles to get prepared, including training on home-made courses others have built similar to the one used on the TV show.
“I didn’t want to drop any of my football training, so I kept consistent with that,” Ryan said. “As it is, I’ve always done full-body training, so I didn’t really change any of that and I just added a little bit of stuff to it.”
Taping for the show took place in mid-March but the episode did not air on NBC until late May. With Kearse and Seattle fullback Derrick Coleman watching in person, Ryan made it through the first two obstacles on the course before falling off a spinning platform.
Ryan said he knew he needed to hold back a little bit, not wanting to risk injury to his primary occupation. One of the challenges on the day of the event was being in the first group to go and not being able to watch how others tried to make it through the course.
“I kind of had the disadvantage of running it near the start,” Ryan said. “When we were in training, it was a lot of upper body stuff which was a little tougher for me being 220, 230 pounds when I’m training with guys who were literally 140, 150 pounds. It’s like a whole different thing for me.”
Now that he’s gone through the process, Ryan said the opportunity only made him want try again.
“It was definitely a tough course and that showed when I was on it,” he said, “and I hope to do it again.”
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