NFL Films Presents More: The Beast and My Baby

Cutting Room Floor, Michelle Girardi Zumwalt, Tales from the Vault

Last spring, Marshawn Lynch visited 1 NFL to give an interview for NFL Films Presents about how he bested and BEASTed the Saints’ defense with a 67-yard game-clinching touchdown run in last year’s playoffs. You must remember him tossing Tracy Porter like he was made of straw with what Marshawn refers to as his “baby stiff-arm.”

Marshawn shows Ellie his moustache

Mr. Beast Mode had been traded away from my beloved Buffalo Bills months earlier, but he was still one of my favorite football personalities. How could you not love the guy after seeing him wired for sound against the Bengals in 2007? It was certainly my favorite part of producing that season’s Buffalo Bills highlight film.

Since his arrival coincided with my day off, I tore myself away from a particularly gripping House Hunters marathon for the chance to see if the real Marshawn is anything like his on-field alter ego.The verdict? He’s much less boisterous as a man than he is as a Beast, but incredibly charming and genuine.

I had brought my baby daughter Ellie along because, well, she’s awesome (and I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to let the dog babysit her), but also because she had been gifted a Marshawn Lynch Bills onesie that she never got a chance to wear before Marshawn moved on to the Emerald City. No matter. She could sport her number 23 now to show Mr. Lynch that she was still a fan.

The Beast and the Baby

When we first met, he was practically giddy and asked if he could take a picture of Ellie wearing his number. I don’t mean to destroy Mr. Lynch’s Beast Mode persona after he worked so hard to craft it, but rather than a single-minded, tough-as-nails, impossible-to-bring down football player, I saw a guy I’d consider hiring as my nanny. You know, if I could afford the signing bonus. OK, seriously, he may not be quite ready for diaper duty, but he is a pretty mean baby-talker, and he played right along with her fascination with his facial hair. Not to mention, she busted out her own baby stiff-arm right to his throat. It was a proud moment. No, I don’t normally hand over my baby to men I’ve just met, but for someone without kids of his own, Marshawn was a natural. It was pretty neat to see the human side of the Beast.

Part of Marshawn’s day at NFL Films was a shoot that involved him bursting into Beast Mode and terrorizing the building. I was selected as one of the victims that would face the wrath of his stiff-arming rampage. That’s right, it was time for both of us to break out our acting, um…skills. We did several takes, and the best part was that every time one of my co-workers happened upon us in the hall, Marshawn insisted that it was fake, and he wasn’t really going all Beast Mode on me. I guess the Beast is really just for show. Unless you’re Tracy Porter.

Scott Graham and Michelle Girardi Zumwalt (in buffalo hat)

Watch NFL Films Presents: Beast Mode here.

Michelle wore her buffalo hat while directing Scott Graham (left) in narrating the Bills-Raiders highlight that she produced for Showtime’s “Inside the NFL”

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