Marshawn Lynch came out of retirement in 2017 to play for his hometown Oakland Raiders. A specific opportunity coaxed him away from exotic vacations and adventures and back to the grind of preparing for NFL football games. He wanted to play at home before his home team was permanently relocated to Las Vegas.
Asked directly during a rare, always epic press conference with local media whether he missed football while away, his answer was simple and direct.
He returned to play in the town that helped raise him, one that he champions at every turn through charitable works.
Lynch won’t make one last ride. ESPN reported Wednesday morning that he plans to retire a second time. There’s no word whether Lynch will make a formal announcement, as he did after Super Bowl 50 by tweeting a photo of shoes hanging over a telephone wire, or if the enigmatic rusher is in fact done play.
He is physically capable of returning for the team’s final season in Oakland, a source said in March, recovered from groin surgery that cut his 2018 season short.
The door was never fully closed on a possible re-signing in part because owner Mark Davis loves Lynch. So does head coach Jon Gruden. But actions speak louder that sentiment in this business and the Raiders started moving on from the legendary runner this offseason.
They signed Isaiah Crowell in late March to join Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Chris Warren III, and are strongly considering running backs high in this week’s NFL draft.
Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock said they wouldn’t make a decision on Lynch until after the draft, but over time that seemed like a hedge in case drafting a runner didn’t work out.
Lynch could eliminate that prospect with his second retirement, ending his Raiders tenure after parts of two seasons. He has 1,502 yards total offense and 10 touchdowns on 332 touches during his time in silver and black, with some iconic moments within. The obvious was him going hyphy on the sideline after a dominant 2017 victory over the New York Jets in his first game in Oakland as a Raider. There also was the long run that helped beat the New York Giants. He was dominant as ever last season, especially in a violent exhibition against Cleveland where he had 130 yards on 20 carries. He suffered a groin injury in a Week 6 loss to Seattle, had surgery to repair it and largely rehabbed on his own.
He just turned 33 years old and the Raiders are trying to get younger at most spots, making it fairly clear the team would move in a different direction.
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If this is it, Lynch will finish his NFL career with 2,441 rushes for 10,379 yards and 84 touchdowns and 391 receptions for 2,214 yards and nine TDs. He was one of the toughest, most elusive runners of his generation over spells with Buffalo, Seattle and Oakland, especially during his salad days with the Seahawks.
He averaged 4.85 yards per carry in the playoff with nine touchdowns. A 10th likely would’ve secured a second Super Bowl victory for Seattle, but a pass was called instead and the Patriots won at the last minute.