(PHOTO AND STORY: SEAHAWKS.COM)
After a year away from football, running back Marshawn Lynch is coming out of retirement to play for the Oakland Raiders. Because there were years remaining on the contract extension Lynch signed with Seattle two years ago, the Seahawks still controlled Lynch’s rights, so to facilitate Lynch returning to play with his hometown team, the Raiders and Seahawks will swap picks in the 2018 draft, the Raiders announced. The Raiders will receive Lynch and a sixth-round draft choice in 2018 in exchange for Oakland’s fifth-round selection in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Lynch, who the Seahawks acquired in a trade with Buffalo in 2010, became a star and a fan favorite in Seattle, rushing for 1,200 or more yards and double-digit touchdowns for four straight seasons from 2011 to 2014. Lynch, who has rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns in his career, earned Pro-Bowl honors in four of his six seasons with the Seahawks and was a first-team All-Pro in 2012 and second-team All-Pro in 2014.
More than stats or awards, what most defined Lynch’s tenure in Seattle is the way he helped the team establish a physical identity in its early years under Pete Carroll and John Schneider. As a young Seahawks team was hitting its stride in 2012, Carroll said of Lynch: "I think he really is the key element to putting this thing together from the attitude perspective at least."
That Lynch wanted his return to happen in Oakland is hardly a surprise. An Oakland native who played his college football at the University of California in nearby Berkeley, Lynch has always had an incredibly strong bond with his hometown.
“He’s committed to the community, he’s not just interested in the community,” California’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said while attending the annual football camp Lynch’s Fam 1st Family Foundation hosts at Oakland Tech High School, Lynch’s alma mater.. “He recognizes himself in every single one of these kids you see behind me, and he wants to be there for them in the long run.
“He’s a guy that didn’t take off, a guy that didn’t turn back, a guy that didn’t abandon them. This is a community where a lot of folks abandon these kids. A lot of folks in my line of work, elected officials, they show up when the cameras are there, then they turn their backs on these kids. This is a community that’s a very tight, close community, but a lot of families that have struggles, so for Marshawn to still be around, to keep coming back year-in-year out—I’ve seen some of these kids when they were half the size they are today—and that they know he’s still here two, three years later, that’s a profound thing. It may not seem like a lot, but they know he came back again, then came back again, and that gives them a sense of continuity in their lives that’s so much bigger than a sport, so much bigger than a camp, so much bigger than today. It transcends and gives them a sense of optimism that people do give a damn about them and that their lives matter.”
Injuries limited Lynch to just seven games in 2015, then he announced his retirement with a wordless Tweet during Super Bowl 50. Lynch had an eventful year of retirement, traveling the world, appearing on various TV shows and running his Beast Mode stores in Oakland and Seattle.
That retirement turned out to be short-lived however, and now the 31-year-old Lynch will have a chance to finish his career playing in his hometown.