Marshawn Lynch always will be big brother to Raiders, Seahawks


Marshawn Lynch always will be big brother to Raiders, Seahawks

ALAMEDA – Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch left Seattle with a tweet. A pair of neon green shoes hung over a utility wire, with a peace out emoji under the illustration.

And, just like that, BeastMode was retired. He spent the year doing Marshawn things, globetrotting and building a brand and giving back to his native Oakland.

He has said he didn’t miss football, but he returned just the same. He didn’t go back to Seattle, which technically held his rights. He orchestrated a trade to play for his hometown Raiders starting in 2017.

Lynch's first regular-season game against his old team comes Sunday in London – there have been preseason affairs where Lynch didn’t play – but odds of hearing how he feels about it are slim.

Lynch rarely speaks to the press. Waxing philosophic about the old days wouldn’t likely be a thing even if he did. Maybe it’s a huge deal. Maybe he hasn’t given it a moment’s thought. Or maybe the London-ness of this affair takes the fun out of it.

It is, however, cause to discuss Lynch’s good ol’ days and how he remains effective at age 32. He’s in a few Seattle newspapers today, and he has been brought up in most every press interaction advancing this game in the East Bay and Pacific Northwest.

There are a few common themes.

Lynch runs hard as heck, as violent as ever. He’s beloved by both sides, including the Seahawks locker room after he abruptly retired. He may not shout into microphones, but he’s fiercely loyal and leads by example.

“He is a great teammate,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “I haven’t met a player, someone in Seattle, Buffalo, here, anyone that’s been with him that didn’t like him as a teammate. He’s a great, great teammate. If you ever need anything for some kids or you ever need someone to be there for something, he’s always there.”

Lynch has that reputation here in Oakland, where he’d win the mayor’s office in a landslide. Oakland loves Lynch, who represents The Town as well as anyone, and devoted time and resources to its improvement.

He meant a great deal to Seattle and his Seahawks teammates, and that started by being genuine.

“I mean, we loved it,” Baldwin told reporters, via the News Tribune in Tacoma, Wash. “He was beloved in this locker room because of that.

“He would speak how he felt. If he was wrong, he would come back and apologize to the people that he wronged. But for the most part, you respected the man because he was who he was. He didn’t try to act like something he wasn’t. He didn’t pretend with you guys in the media then come back into the locker room and act differently. He was who he was consistently, throughout and throughout.”

Lynch was a consistently powerful runner during Seattle’s glory days, when he exceeded 1,200 yards in four straight seasons. He might not hit that plateau this season, but he’s running as hard and violent now as he was then.

When given the opportunity to establish a rhythm, Lynch has been good and far better than he was a year ago. Take the Week 4 victory over Cleveland as an example. He broke 11 tackles on 20 carries earning 130 yards. He was vintage Marshawn, running through and over people for extra yards.

“I think he looks really, very much the same,” Seattle head coach Pete Carroll said in a conference call with Raiders reporters. “I really like the way he is playing. I mean last year and this year. He looks in the same style, in the same mode, aggressive and explosive. He’s averaging over four yards a carry. I think he’s doing pretty good.

“I think he has done a remarkable job of maintaining his fitness. I remarked to him when I saw him the first time he came back around, he was getting going in preseason or whatever, just how fit he was. I don’t know what he’s doing but I would attribute that to he’s really been diligent about maintaining his health and well-being and all.”

The Seahawks are running well recently, but that doesn’t mean they’ve found another Lynch. He didn’t seem to leave on great terms with the organization, but there’s plenty of affection for him in that franchise.

“It’s football,” Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “I mean, I’m looking at all of you, right. You all make a big deal out of football. But truth be told, at the end of the day, when we are on our deathbeds, football means nothing. Right? It really means nothing at the end of the day.

It doesn’t matter how many ... like, I was talking to K.J. (Wright) about this earlier today: I don’t care how many tackles he makes, or how many interceptions he has. I want to know, is he a good husband. Is he a good father to his children? Those are the most important things. “So, honestly, don’t really care how it ended. Because I know the man. My relationship with Marshawn, and his relationship with guys he’s spent time with in this locker room, that doesn’t change — no matter if he’s in a different uniform, if he’s in a different country, doesn’t matter.

“He’s still Marshawn. He’s still our brother.”

Tom Flores 'pleasantly surprised' to be Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist


Tom Flores 'pleasantly surprised' to be Pro Football Hall of Fame semifinalist

The Pro Football Hall of Fame whittles its nominees from triple digits down to 25 this time every year.

Former Raiders coach Tom Flores is almost always on the big list. He had never been a semifinalist despite being the first Latino head coach to win one, then two Super Bowls, winning another as an assistant and playing on an AFL title team in 1967.

The lack of advancement baffles many who believe Flores should be enshrined in Canton, Ohio. Flores previously admitted frustration with the process, but never lost hope that one day he would progress further down the selection process.

The time came Tuesday, when Flores was among the list of 25 modern-era semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The news produced an honest reaction from the 81-year-old former coach and quarterback. 

“It put a smile on my face and tears in my eyes,” Flores told NBC Sports California Tuesday evening. 

It brought a renewed optimism that he could advance farther, and finally be inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Flores isn’t getting ahead of himself, but he is excited about Tuesday’s development.

“I was pleasantly surprised,” Flores said. “… I wasn’t really anticipating it. I always keep my fingers crossed, and this time it finally happened reaching this level. Now we’ll have to wait another month to see about the finals, and if that happens it’ll really be exciting.”

[RELATED: Raiders' trio of first-round picks take tumble in Week 11]

The list of 15 finalists will be announced in January. Flores hopes advancing this far can spark some momentum to enshrinement.

“I’m hoping that this is the catalyst to reaching the final 15,” Flores said. “There’s one more vote to hit that mark, and then once you get there you’re chances really improve. I’ve never been this far, so the chances are already up. I’m excited about it. I’m thrilled and honored about it, and all of the above. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. That’s all I can do.”

Ex-Raiders coach Tom Flores a semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame


Ex-Raiders coach Tom Flores a semifinalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Tom Flores, who coached the Raiders to two Super Bowl championships, was announced Tuesday as a modern-era semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019.

Flores also won championship rings as a backup quarterback with the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl IV, and as an assistant coach under John Madden with the Raiders in Super Bowl XI.

Flores compiled a record of 83-53 in nine seasons with the Raiders, and was the first Latino head coach in NFL history. The Raiders won Super Bowls XV and XVIII under his guidance.

His final season as an NFL head coach was in 1994 with the Seattle Seahawks. Flores advanced to the final 25 for the first time in the Hall of Fame process. A group of 102 nominees was announced in September.

Flores is a polarizing candidate, with a passionate supporters group and others who believe his entire body of work is lacking consistency required for a gold jacket. Reaching this stage is a step forward for Flores, who is as pivotal as anyone outside Al Davis in guiding the Raiders through a golden area. 

To be eligible for election to the Hall of Fame, a nominated player or coach must not have participated as an active player or coach for five consecutive seasons.

Flores, 81, and former Miami linebacker Zach Thomas are the only previously eligible individuals who were voted as semifinalists for the first time. Thomas' career ended in 2008.

The final 25 includes three first-year eligible players: Cornerback Champ Bailey, tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed.

Former Tampa Bay and Denver safety John Lynch, in his second year as 49ers general manager, was announced as a semi-finalist for the seventh consecutive year. Lynch, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, has made it to the final 15 five times.

Wide receiver Isaac Bruce is the only other semifinalist with 49ers ties. Bruce ended his career with the 49ers in 2009. He made four Pro Bowls during his 14 seasons with the Rams. Bruce ranks fifth all-time with 15,208 receiving yards.

Defensive lineman Richard Seymour, a seven-time Pro Bowl performer, is the only other semifinalist who played for the Raiders. After eight seasons with the New England Patriots, Seymour played his final four years with the Raiders. He is a semifinalist for the second time.

Running back Ricky Watters, QB Jeff Garcia, and defensive lineman Bryant Young were among the nominees with 49ers ties who did not become semifinalists. Former Raiders cornerback Albert Lewis, guard Steve Wisniewski, and cornerback Eric Allen also missed the cut. 

The list of semifinalists will be reduced to 15 modern-era finalists on Jan. 3. Those 15 individuals, along with senior finalist Johnny Robinson and contributor finalists Gil Brandt and Pat Bowlen, will advance to the final stage on the eve of Super Bowl.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame bylaws stipulate that from four to eight new members will be selected each year. No more than five modern-era finalists can be elected in a given year.

Following is an alphabetical list of the 25 semifinalists, along with number of times each individual has been selected as a semifinalist:

Steve Atwater, S – 1989-1998 Denver Broncos, 1999 New York Jets | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2012-19)
Champ Bailey, CB – 1999-2003 Washington Redskins, 2004-2013 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Ronde Barber, CB/S – 1997-2012 Tampa Bay Buccaneers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Tony Boselli, T – 1995-2001 Jacksonville Jaguars, 2002 Houston Texans (injured reserve) | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2016-19)
Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
LeRoy Butler, S – 1990-2001 Green Bay Packers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Don Coryell, Coach – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-1986 San Diego Chargers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 11 – 2005, 2010-19)
Alan Faneca, G – 1998-2007 Pittsburgh Steelers, 2008-09 New York Jets, 2010 Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 4 – 2016-19)
Tom Flores, Coach – 1979-1987 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-94 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Tony Gonzalez, TE – 1997-2008 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009-2013 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Steve Hutchinson, G – 2001-05 Seattle Seahawks, 2006-2011 Minnesota Vikings, 2012 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-19)
Edgerrin James, RB – 1999-2005 Indianapolis Colts, 2006-08 Arizona Cardinals, 2009 Seattle Seahawks | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Jimmy Johnson, Coach – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins | (Times as a Semifinalist: 6 – 2014-19)
Ty Law, CB – 1995-2004 New England Patriots, 2005, 2008 New York Jets, 2006-07 Kansas City Chiefs, 2009 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
John Lynch, FS – 1993-2003 Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2004-07 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 7 – 2013-19)
Clay Matthews, LB – 1978-1993 Cleveland Browns, 1994-96 Atlanta Falcons | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2012, 2017, 2019)
Kevin Mawae, C/G – 1994-97 Seattle Seahawks, 1998-2005 New York Jets, 2006-09 Tennessee Titans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 5 – 2015-19)
Karl Mecklenburg, LB – 1983-1994 Denver Broncos | (Times as a Semifinalist: 8 – 2012-19)
Sam Mills, LB – 1986-1994 New Orleans Saints, 1995-97 Carolina Panthers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2016, 2019)
Ed Reed, FS – 2002-2012 Baltimore Ravens, 2013 New York Jets, 2013 Houston Texans | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Richard Seymour, DE/DT – 2001-08 New England Patriots, 2009-2012 Oakland Raiders | (Times as a Semifinalist: 2 – 2018-2019)
Zach Thomas, LB – 1996-2007 Miami Dolphins, 2008 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 1 – 2019)
Hines Ward, WR – 1998-2011 Pittsburgh Steelers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2017-19)
Darren Woodson, S – 1992-2003 Dallas Cowboys | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015, 2017, 2019)

Editor’s note: Matt Maiocco is on the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors.