Finally, Marshawn Lynch has said publicly what his hanging-up-the-spikes tweet during the Super Bowl declared for him months ago.
“I’m done ... I’m retired ... I’m not playing football anymore.”
That’s what the former Seahawks cornerstone running back tells 60 Minutes Sports in a cable-television feature that begins airing nationally Tuesday night on Showtime.
It’s the first time Lynch has uttered the exact word publicly since he tweeted that photo in early February during the Super Bowl.
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This should end all the rumors.
People for months have been speculating that Lynch, 30, may want to play again, if not for Seattle than perhaps his hometown Oakland Raiders. When May arrived and Lynch still hadn’t sent his official retirement papers to the Seahawks and the league, those rumors grew. Almost every time a Seahawks player gave a national interview this spring — such as Richard Sherman to former Seahawk Michael Robinson of NFL Network — the subject of Lynch possibly returning came up.
When 60 Minutes Sports mentioned that the Raiders need a veteran running back and that his return to play for Oakland seems like a perfect storyline, Lynch shook his head and chuckled.
“No, I’m done. I’m done,” Lynch said. “I’ve enjoyed my time. Now it’s time to watch my cousins do their thing.”
Lynch’s Bay Area-based agent, Doug Hendrickson, also discussed the Raiders-homecoming idea.
“I think if you could write the perfect story as far as the last year of his career — play again, come back to Oakland — it’d make sense, right?” Hendrickson said. “But the reality is, look, he told me he’s done.”
Here’s another reality: The Seahawks own Lynch’s playing rights through the 2017 season, whether he’s retired or not. That’s the result of the two-year contract extension he signed to get $5 million more guaranteed up front before the 2015 season. Lynch would have to renege on his word, then Seattle would have to release or trade the running back for him to play for another team.
But that fact didn’t fit neatly into the rumor’s narrative.
So ends — really, truly — Lynch’s decade in the league and his 5 1/2-year run in Seattle that will go down as the most successful string of seasons in franchise history. He was the foundation for it. Lynch personified coach Pete Carroll’s physical, punishing style of play predicated on running the ball and dominating games with defense.
Lynch was named to five Pro Bowl teams, one with Buffalo in 2008 and four after his trade to the Seahawks in October 2010. He was an All-Pro in 2012 when he romped for a career-high 1,590 yards with 11 rushing touchdowns. From 2011 into last season, Lynch was the NFL’s leader in rushing yards and touchdowns — despite never having a season when he led the league in rushing yards.
He is certainly worthy of consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, if not induction. His credentials are similar to those of Earl Campbell, another punishing runner with the Houston Oilers from 1978-84. Campbell, the NFL’s leading rusher in each of his first three seasons, is enshrined in Canton, Ohio.
One difference between Lynch and Campbell: Lynch won four more playoff games, including a Super Bowl. That was at the end of the 2013 season, when Lynch and the Seahawks thumped Denver, 43-8, to win Seattle’s only NFL title.
Wide receiver Doug Baldwin posted on social media last month, hours after his team drafted three running backs, that the Seahawks should ensure no one wears Lynch’s No. 24 in Seattle “for years to come.” General manager John Schneider said he’s told Lynch no one will wear No. 24 for the Seahawks during the 2016 regular season.
Lynch’s 6,347 yards rushing for Seattle are fourth-most in franchise history. The three ahead of him — Shaun Alexander (9,429 yards), Chris Warren (6,706) and Curt Warner (6,705) — each played at least two more seasons for the Seahawks than Lynch did. His 57 rushing touchdowns are second in team history to Alexander’s 100.
“Selfishly, yeah, I’d want him to play another year or two, make sure he’s cemented the Hall of Fame,” Hendrickson told 60 Minutes Sports.
Then the agent added: “With Marshawn, I’ll never say never, OK?”
That led the show’s interviewer, Jon Wertheim from Sports Illustrated, to press Lynch one more time on if he’ll play again.
“I’m RETIRED,” Lynch said sternly. “Is that good enough?”
Then he turned to a producer.
“Which camera do you want me to look into? This one?” Lynch said. “I’m done. I’m not playing football anymore.”
Gregg Bell: @gbellseattle
“BEAST MODE” TO THE HALL OF FAME?
Marshawn Lynch’s career is similar to that of Earl Campbell, who is enshrined in Canton, Ohio.
The big difference: Lynch, unlike Campbell, won a Super Bowl:
Years TeamsRush Yds Rush TDs Yds/carry All-Pros* Pro Bowls
Campbell1978-83 HOU, NO9,40774 4.335
Lynch2007-15 BUF, SEA9,11274 4.315
(* = Times named to The Associated Press’ All-Pro first team)
POSTSEASON GamesRush Yds Yds/GmRush TDsYds/carry Record
Campbell 6 42070 4 3.1 3-3
Lynch 11 93785.2 9 4.9 7-4