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Arthur Lynch played at Georgia from

Former Bulldog Arthur Lynch explains his incredible journey from football field to the military

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#DGD: Catching up with former Bulldog Arthur Lynch

In this week’s installment of the #DGD or “Damn Good Dawg” series, we catch up with former Georgia tight end Arthur Lynch. After a slow start to his Georgia career, Lynch blossomed into an All-SEC tight end and a key member of Georgia’s 2012 SEC East championship team. 

Lynch was taken in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. After a stints with the Dolphins and Falcons, Lynch returned to Massachusetts. He then began to try and  join the United States Marines Corps. But his military career stalled for nearly two years due to injuries from his football days. Eventually, Lynch switched to the Army and he recently completed basic training in Fort Benning, which is just outside of Columbus, Ga. The 28-year old is now training to be a second lieutenant.

DawgNation: It’s certainly not an easy choice or decision to make by turning to the military and serving your country. What led you to making that decision?

Arthur Lynch: So originally I applied to the OCS program with the Marine Corps, and that process started right after I get cut from the Falcons (in 2016). It was something I had been thinking about for a while, and just something I’ve always had a passion for. The more I thought about it while I was playing football, it was something I was going to end up doing regardless. Obviously my intention was to do it after I played in the NFL for 10 to 12 years, but when I started getting hurt, it was really the first time that had ever happened in my career. I realized that my body was starting to catch up to me after the wear and tear over the years. In the NFL if you get hurt right away, it’s very hard to bounce back, and if you don’t get film on tape, it’s hard to bounce around the league and make a name for yourself. So I started really thinking about what I wanted to do after football, and the military was the first thing I thought about. I went to the Marines’ recruiting office and they  were very adamant about helping me sift through the medical waivers and medical documents. But after applying on three different occasions on medical waivers, they still rejected me. I had a congressional letter from my congressman back home in Massachusetts, I had a letter from Senator Elizabeth Warren, you know pleading for a second chance for me for a waiver and unfortunately, I never got that. It was actually a mentor of mine from the University of Georgia, he was the one who started pointing me towards the Army. In the spring of the 2017, I took my US Marine packet over to the Army, and then after another year of trying and a few more failed attempts, they finally brought me in. It was a little bit later than expected, but it’s just something that after trying so many avenues of trying to make it happen, it was less of a want to thing and more of an obligation. Obviously I’m a little bit older, I just turned 28 last summer, and when you walk into basic training there are a lot of 17 and 18-year olds. The first thing I realized in basic training is that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, everyone’s treated the same. I learned more about humility there than when I was in the NFL and cut by four teams before the age of 25. 

DN: You mention being a little bit older and just all that you went through to get to this point. Do you think that maturity and having gone through the process of rejection in the NFL helped you navigate through the path from the Marines to the Army?

AL: I’m a big believer in, “everything happens for a reason.” Looking back on it, I am a better fit in the Army because there’s more things that I want to do and that the Marines just don’t really have. I think that once I put my mind to the fact that I wanted to serve, it was very hard for me to give it up… I didn’t learn the humility part so much from the process of getting in, but I think there was a lot persistence on my end. I just had to keep my head down and understand the idea that rejection happens to everyone. It happened to me in my football career, so this was just another form of rejection. It wasn’t because of my skill level or intelligence, it was just bad luck on my end. These doctors wouldn’t even see me because of my medical file. People always joke with me in the Army because I’ve been here for five minutes and my medical file is already huge. All that stuff was happened to me at the University of Georgia or the NFL, and unfortunately there’s nothing I can do to take back the injuries that I had. Physically I’m fine, and the doctors just needed to see that. And once they did, the doctor who saw me said, ‘It was ridiculous that it had taken this long just to see a doctor.’ They were just trying to cover their own rear end and I understand that. 

DN: This question seems sort of trivial compared to everything else you’ve been through, but did you get to watch much of Georgia football this season and if so what did you think of them?

AL: I will say Georgia football was a top priority for me, and they always are for me. The only problem for me is that we didn’t television. But the good thing about having basic training in Fort Benning is that half of the Army civilians grew up in Columbus, Ga., and they’re either a Georgia Bulldog fan, an Alabama fan or an Auburn fan. So I would always ask the Army civilians on Sunday morning what happened in the Georgia. I did get to watch the SEC championship game, but I only saw four games this year. But I was always very aware of how they were doing. 

DN: So since you did see the game, what did you think of Georgia’s performance against Alabama?

AL: It felt like deja vu really with the 2012 game. It was tough. There’s probably a little bit of  a mental hurdle that has now been built in front of Georgia football by Nick Saban and Alabama. I hate to say it, but since I lived that first game in 2012, I almost have an expectation for us to somehow lose in dramatic fashion. It’s a terrible thing to say but man. Unfortunately, watching that game, it ended up playing like something out of a movie with (Alabama quarterback) Jalen Hurts coming in at the end against the team that basically forced him to lose his spot. It was pretty dramatic and theatrical. But when that all started to take place, I kind of had a feeling that this to would end in a defeat for Georgia. It was tough watching it, but I also know that there’s a light at the tunnel. At the end of the day, Nick Saban is on the other sideline, and if you give him an inch he’s going to take a yard. I think Georgia is equally talented and I do think that Kirby Smart is the man who will lead Georgia to a national championship, but they have to get over that Alabama hurdle that’s been there really since 2008.

DN: So in your 2012 game, you have the big catch to get Georgia inside the 10-yard line before the final play. And then the game ends the way it does on the tipped pass that Chris Conley ends up catching. You guys were arguably the second best team in the country that year, and somewhat like this year, you didn’t get the chance to play for the national championship. How did that SEC championship game loss motivate you for both the bowl game and then going into that 2013 season?

AL: I think in the bowl game we were just so pissed off at the end of the game. We realized that we were probably the second best team in the country. Then when we watched Notre Dame in the national title game we were like, ‘Really? This is the team that’s playing for the national championship?’ And Alabama just wiped the floor with them. That should’ve been us. And then going into the next year, if anything it motivated us for that next year. Georgia was motivated as ever going into this season after what happened last year. So this result will only fuel them even more, and probably even drive them crazy, which is why I say they’ll have a little bit of a mental hurdle to get over. But I wouldn’t be surprised if Georgia comes back out and wipes the floor with Texas. They finish the year ranked No. 2 or 3, and just start on a hot streak to begin next season. That’s what I would predict, but again it all comes back to can you beat Alabama when it matters most. As for us in 2013, we brought back a ton of guys. But then in that first game of the season against Clemson, Malcolm Mitchell tears his ACL celebrating a touchdown with Todd Gurley, and that sort of was a precursor for the season. We lost to Clemson by three points but then we beat two top-10 teams. But it just seemed like every week, we lost another key player to injury. By the end of the year we lost Keith Marshall, Michael Bennett, Mitchell and Aaron Murray to knee injuries. So for us we had a lot of motivation but the attrition of football ended really any hopes we had. 

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