Damn. Could have had the scoop last week. My daughter teaches school in Oakland. She doesn’t teach at Technical High—Oakland Tech to the locals–but said that a few of her students had been there recently.
“Marshawn Lynch was on the track doing sprints,” my daughter informed me. “My students said he was really working hard and was getting in shape.”
Right, I thought. Then rolled my eyes. The rumors of a Marshawn Lynch comeback have been in the air approximately since forever. Or specifically, since the day he officially “retired” from the Seattle Seahawks. Remember how on Super Bowl Sunday 2016, Lynch tweeted out that picture of his football cleats hanging from the telephone wire? Almost immediately, murmurs began that Lynch was just kidding and would be returning to the NFL imminently. All were false.
But this time, the rumors are not rumors. Lynch must have climbed up that telephone pole and retrieved his cleats. According to multiple reports, he spent Wednesday at Raiders headquarters in Alameda and informed the team that he intends to unretire if they will give him a job.
Prediction: They will give him a job.
It’s more than a sensible idea for to have Lynch, an Oakland native, come back and play for his hometown team. It’s something that both parties need desperately.
From his actions over the past 14 months, Lynch obviously has an itch to play football again and is dying to scratch it. He spent the last year popping up here and there around the Bay, looking alternately happy and uncomfortable and . . . just weird. One night last spring, he even showed up at a Sharks game and opened up the dressing room door to allow the team onto the ice.
Lynch is 30 years old, three years younger than Frank Gore and two years younger than Adrian Peterson. Even though Lynch’s body absorbed much wear and tear over his seasons in Buffalo and Seattle, he surely has some miles left in the tank if he’s motivated to put down the gas pedal. He must be. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have knocked on the Raiders’ gate Wednesday and started talking. Keep in mind that to do so, Lynch needed permission from the Seahawks, who still own his contract. So we know that he wanted this enough to have his agent make such a phone call. Lynch is plainly desperate to prove to his old neighborhood that he can give them some thrills and touchdowns.
As for the Raiders . . . well, do I really need to explain why they might need some good publicity in Oakland right now? The next two or three seasons before the team moves to Las Vegas are going to be a rough go in terms of cultivating East Bay loyalty. Hiring a popular hometown kid who has always embraced the city–even opening his own “Beast Mode” boutique in the downtown district–is the no brainer of all no brainers. For their own reasons, some of them actually having to do with football, the Raiders are also desperate to make this happen.
Heck, Lynch might personally save hundreds of season ticket holders from canceling their orders. He might even go open their doors on Sunday mornings so that they can get to the game, just as he did for the Sharks.
Reading some Silver and Black tea leaves, the Raiders have likely been thinking about signing up Lynch for a while–and definitely since last month when Latavius Murray left as a free agent to sign a deal with Minnesota. At the NFL meetings in Arizona a week ago, Raiders coach Jack Del Rio coyly danced around the Lynch question and only said he expected to have “a guy that can give us some of that power running” on the roster in the 2017 season. However, Del Rio wouldn’t go near the Lynch question directly.
“I can only tell you that he is the property of somebody else,” Del Rio told me and other reporters in Phoenix. “So that basically forbids me from talking about him. He’s a local guy, we understand that. Beyond that, we can’t say anything.”
Except now, they can. Getting a deal done with the Seahawks for Lynch’s rights will be a formality. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie and Seattle general manager John Schneider are old friends. The Raiders may have to give up a low draft pick and/or one of Mark Davis’ old vans with a spare tire or two. That’s it. Assuming that Lynch’s medical exam checks out, expect this to be done fast.
It’s true that the Lynch we see in Oakland may not be the same indestructible heavy equipment machinery that we often witnessed in Seattle. But he’s got to be good for six or seven quality carries a game. Used in the right situation, he can be a real weapon. What was it Al Davis once said? Desperation makes gorgeous bedfellows.
All right, so Al never said that. But given his penchant to sign veteran big names and put them in Silver and Black uniforms, you know that Al would like this move. If only I had listened to my daughter last week, I might have confirmed the whole thing days ago. Meanwhile, if anybody should see Richard Sherman working out at Stanford or any high school track near 49ers headquarters in the next few days, could they please call me?