Marshawn Lynch left pro-football almost as quietly as he attended press conferences. Whilst his pre-Superbowl press conferences are infamous for their awkwardness, when it came to his retirement, he just posted a photo of some cleats hung up on a telephone wire on twitter. No words were attached, we just had to assume.
In the year that followed Lynch has mentored young footballers at University of California, and appeared in Brooklyn Nine Nine, playing a talkative version of himself. Not much else has been seen really until last week when Ian Rapaport reported that Lynch has told the Oakland Raiders that he intended to unretire. I assume that involved getting someone to snatch his cleats from the telephone wire.
Oakland is Lynch’s hometown, so if anyone was able to persuade Beast Mode to return, then it was going to be the Raiders, before they head off to Las Vegas in 2019/2020. Is this going to be good news? Well seemingly so, for the Raiders, they had let go of Latavius Murray in the off season, who was their power running back, but will now be lining up behind the Viking Offensive Line this season. Their other options at Running Back, such as Jalen Richard are different propositions, and lack Lynch’s ability to run straight through a defence.
Unretiring is not as rare in NFL as it can be in other sports, such as football. Deion Sanders, Reggie White, Tony Gonzalez unretired or reversed retirement decisions, whilst Brett Favre did it a few times. Some have been successful, whilst some have not been glittering returns that people would hope. Whilst Deion Sanders helped cement his legacy, we only have to look at Michael Schumacher or Neville Southall to see athletes who have returned and there is very little sight in football as impressive as Lynch in full flight, but there are still some hurdles for Lynch’s return. Firstly, his registration is still held by Seattle, so his release would have to be arranged with the Seahawks, or a trade organised, which will take time. Once this is organised there is still the question of his fitness. Lynch missed 9 games in his final season with Seattle, and will the year off enable Lynch to recover from the rigours of being a power running back, or will the legend who will be 31 by the time the new season comes around struggle with rustiness. I’m sure if Lynch is being brought back, then he will be back at near full fitness by the time the new season returns, he’s got plenty of time to get back. If this is the case, then it may be bad news for the rest of the NFL, as adding Beast Mode to an offense that was unfortunate to go out at the first stage of the Playoffs when Derek Carr broke his leg. Lynch, coupled with the other running back options, along with Derek Carr throwing to Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree could be an offense strong enough to reach the latter stages of the Playoffs and go on a run all the way to the Superbowl.
For the Raiders sake, and for those of us who love to see Lynch run through players, I hope that this is not going to tar the legacy of Beast Mode. I’m sure if he felt this was the case then the talks would not be already on, it’s not like the Raiders have sentimentality to consider when chasing Superbowl appearances with their current roster. They were terribly unlucky to lose Derek Carr when they did last year, and with their offense in that type of form again, the sky is the limit for this Oakland team.