Only remnants remain of the man once known as “Beast Mode.” Marshawn Lynch’s 31-year-old body gave the Oakland Raiders everything it had last season, rushing for 891 yards and 7 touchdowns. There were brief glimpses of that ferocious battering ram truck sticking defenders like he did in his days in Seattle, but those moments were as fleeting as Jon Gruden’s patience.
The Raiders head coach reportedly wants more of a full-time effort from Lynch in 2018. It’s a monumental request for any soon-to-be 32-year-old running back, but it’s even more significant for a player with one year left on his contract and one foot already out the door.
“We’re not going to have that,” Gruden said, via Monday Morning Quarterback. “No. I said to him: ‘I need Marshawn Lynch. I don’t need this part-time Lynch. I need full-time Lynch. Man, you’re motivating me right now, baby! If he ain’t getting motivated, something’s wrong. We need the real deal. If you’re going to put those letters on the back of your jersey, man, you’ve got to back it up, Marshawn—right? We don’t need another back, we need a feature back.”
Gruden is barking up the wrong tree if he expects that feature back from four years that ran for 1,306 yards and 13 touchdowns to suddenly turn up on his doorstep.
That player is long gone by now.
The truth is Lynch was as motivated in 2017 as he’s been in years. Given the disappointing end to the Raiders season, it’s easy to forget about the spontaneous dance session that broke out at the team’s first home game against the New York Jets. Lynch, a native Oaklander, was ecstatic to be at home playing for his hometown NFL team. It was the same organization he watched from afar and cheered for when growing up. How can he possibly be any more motivated than he was in that moment?
Lynch has a vivid personality that is marketable beyond the football field. He retired in 2016 and traveled around the world playing bagpipes and eating Skittles, and he recently launched a social media show that follows him around and records all of his fun-filled shenanigans.
The fact is Lynch doesn’t need football anymore.
He’s a five-time Pro Bowler, a two-time NFL rushing leader and a Super Bowl champion. What more does he really need to accomplish?
Gruden would be better off drafting a young running back or going after Carlos Hyde or Doug Martin in the offseason. Perhaps they’d even take a crack at Le’Veon Bell if he’s made available. Lynch would make for a strong secondary option at this point in his career. A part-time role seems about right given his age.
Waiting for the beast to howl again would just lead to more disappointment for the Raiders. That version of Lynch died a long time ago.