OAKLAND (CBS SF) — In a rare interview with reporters, Marshawn Lynch said his return to football was hastened by the Oakland Raiders announcement they would be moving to Las Vegas.
Lynch, who came out of retirement to join the Raiders, said when he was growing up he dreamed of playing for his hometown team.
“To play in Oakland is a dream come true,” he told reporters.
When asked when the former Seattle Seahawks star thought about coming out of retirement, Lynch said as soon as the Raiders announced they would be leaving Oakland for Las Vegas by the 2020 season.
“Being from Oakland, you want to play at home,” he said. “Maybe them staying probably wouldn’t have been so big for me to come and play. Knowing that they were leaving and a lot of the kids here probably won’t have an opportunity to see most of their idols growing up…With me being from here and continuing to be here gives them the opportunity to see someone who actually did it (came from Oakland).”
Lynch said he feels the support of the city and its residents.
“I have the whole town riding with me,” he said. “The way we feel about where we are from and what we represent…We fought so hard because we know what the struggle is and how we get down. So every home game I get to come to this stadium, I’m going to be riding with the whole town. When you are doing something like that, knowing that you got a whole (town behind you)… You are born and raised and bred … running down them alleyways … I really did that right here.”
The news conference came a day after Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio took to social media Monday and posted a short video clip of Lynch making a touchdown run during the team’s recent workouts.
Adding a simple — #beastmode back in action during OTA#7 — as text, Del Rio let the video do the talking.
Local Raiders fans have been trying to cope with the reality that the NFL squad will be moving to Las Vegas for the 2020 season with no possibility of a return to the Bay Area until 2050.
While some fans have jettisoned their season tickets in protest, the Raiders have said their season tickets are sold out. The team’s 12-4 record last season and the recent addition of Lynch has fans believing the Raiders have a real shot at the AFC championship in the 2017-2018 season.
Lynch was perhaps the best in the league before he retired. He had double digits in touchdown runs every season from 2011-14, and his 51 TDs on the ground are the most in the NFL since 2011 despite playing just seven games in 2015 and being retired all last season.
The 31-yer-old averaged 3.8 yards per carry in his limited action in 2015 before retiring. Prior to that he was one of the game’s top running backs with more than 1,200 yards rushing in each of the previous four seasons.
For his career, Lynch has rushed for 9,112 yards and 74 touchdowns.