Oakland Raiders

Is Marshawn Lynch truly an Oakland loyalist?

With the Raiders potentially leaving Oakland this year, will Oakland native Marshawn Lynch continue to play in the NFL?

As Marshawn Lynch prepares to hit free agency at 32 years old, we will now see if he truly meant what he said two years ago when he came out of retirement: He only wants to play football in his hometown of Oakland, California.

He initially retired from football following the 2015 season, but felt compelled to return to the game after it was announced that the Oakland Raiders planned to relocate to Las Vegas. He wanted the chance to play for his hometown team, and also for kids growing up in Oakland to have the chance to see a homegrown star play for the hometown team as well.

“Just to play in Oakland is a dream come true,” Lynch said in 2017, via CBS Sports, as he prepared to make his return to the NFL and join the Raiders. “It’s always been something, being from Oakland, you want to play at home or have that opportunity. Them staying, it probably wouldn’t have been so big for me to want to come and play. But knowing that they were leaving and a lot of the kids here won’t have the opportunity to see most of their idols growing up be in their hometown anymore, me being from here, them continuing to be here, it gives them an opportunity to see somebody who actually did it from where they’re from.”

Lynch made it clear that he loves his hometown, and he was coming out of retirement entirely for the city of Oakland. But the Raiders could be leaving Oakland before the 2019 season, and Lynch is about to become a free agent. He hasn’t ruled out retiring again just yet, saying that he would continue to play “if it works out.”

That most likely means that he will continue to play only if the Raiders stick around for one more year. Anything else would contradict what Lynch claimed was his motivation to return to the league.

If Lynch is truly who he says he is — an Oakland loyalist who wants local kids to see a hometown icon play for the hometown team — then he should step away from the game if the Raiders do indeed leave town in 2019. If he continues to play in the NFL for another team, or even for a Raiders team that isn’t playing in Oakland, then there is clearly more to his mindset than just playing football for his hometown.

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Lynch accomplished his goal of playing in Oakland, getting through a full season in 2017 and playing an injury-shortened 2018 season. If we truly have seen the last of the Oakland Raiders, then we most likely have seen the last of Marshawn Lynch as well.

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