Doug Mills | The New York Times

March 27, 2017

McDEVITT | Marshawn Lynch’s Comeback Could Make Football Great Again

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Former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch may be considering coming out of retirement. After a year long hiatus, ESPN reported last week that Lynch was longing for football again, although his agent said that the media reports surrounding a potential return were mostly speculative.

Speculative or not, football fans everywhere should be ecstatic at the possibility of Beast Mode’s return. His style of play is unmatched by any running back currently playing, and perhaps in history.

The leading theory is that the Oakland Raiders — who were recently approved to relocate to Las Vegas in 2018 — are freshly in need of a tailback after Latavius Murray departed for Minnesota earlier this month, and are considering making an offer to the Seahawks for the rights to Lynch’s contract. This makes sense, given that the 30-year old running back was born and raised in Oakland, and his charity, the Fam 1st Family Foundation, is based there.

Watching Lynch play on a superbly talented Raiders team would be special. His skills may be just what quarterback Derek Carr’s already productive offense needs to forge substantial opposition to the Patriots in the AFC next season and beyond. Adding Lynch as a piece in the backfield would certainly help.

Lynch is a fast runner, but undoubtedly the most profound aspect of his physical ability is his strength. He is famous for highlight reel plays, and he has a flair for the spectacular. He uses his lower body to power himself through opposing defenses, breaking tackles and navigating opponents in sensational fashion.

With his upper body, Lynch wills himself to the goal-line by knocking down anybody who stands in his way. For fans in Buffalo, Seattle and across the country, to watch Lynch’s power on the field was to witness a remarkable demonstration of grace and athleticism.

But Lynch’s ability to turn heads went beyond his breathtaking touchdown runs. Lynch had an infamous disdain for the strict guidelines which the NFL posed on his off-the-field life. In 2013, Lynch was fined for skipping media day at Super Bowl XLVII. The following year, Lynch showed up to media day and famously refused to answer any questions. Instead, he repeated the phrase, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” in response to every question. Those words quickly became a staple of social media and popular culture, but Lynch was not fined, since he did technically show up.

Love him or hate him, that was pretty clever. And in that moment of cunning, Lynch represented a unique kind of silent protest that seemed to strike a chord with many of the League’s fans. At a time where people felt as though the NFL was drifting away from its sanity, Lynch’s actions in defiance of Roger Goodell were a breath of fresh air.

Throughout his career, Lynch said exactly what he wanted to say, nothing more, nothing less. He was never going to let Goodell or anyone else force him to do otherwise, and eventually the League gave up its futile efforts to force him to conform.

Fans see the contemporary NFL as somewhat of a departure from some of the traditional rules and style to which many are accustomed. Some of these changes are for the better, like new efforts to increase player safety, and some are for the worse, like the increase in draconian penalties for excessive celebration.

For some, this slightly new football environment feels somewhat unnatural. Lynch’s potential return presents an opportunity for a renewed view of the League, a revival of that silent protest in a new context. Combine that with the return of Lynch’s on the field theatrics, and NFL fans may have the chance to enjoy a little more fun, at a time where some fun is desperately needed.