ALAMEDA, Calif. — Calling the chance to play in his hometown of Oakland for the Raiders “a dream come true,” Marshawn Lynch said he made his decision to come out of retirement, “When I found out they was leaving.”
Lynch, who was acquired by the Raiders from the Seattle Seahawks after a one-year retirement, essentially wrote an ode to his city, which will be losing its team for the second time when the Raiders move to Las Vegas by 2020.
“It’s always been something, being from Oakland, you want to play at home or have the opportunity … but knowing that they were leaving, a lot of the kids here probably won’t have the opportunity to see most of their idols growing up, won’t be in their hometown no more,” Lynch said at the podium after OTA practice on Tuesday.
“With me being from here, and continuing to be here, it gives them an opportunity, then, that they get to see somebody that actually did it, from where they’re from, and for the team that they probably idolize.”
The 31-year-old Lynch brings a physical running game to the Raiders, who went 12-4 last season and played in the postseason for the first time since 2002.
They have plenty of offensive weapons in rising quarterback Derek Carr, who is coming off a broken right fibula suffered in Week 16, explosive receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, a productive tight end in Jared Cook and a dominant offensive line with three Pro Bowlers, including All-Pro left guard Kelechi Osemele.
“I got the whole town, you feel me, though, riding with me.”
Oakland also has the league’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Khalil Mack.
Still, Lynch insisted his agreeing to join the Raiders was deeper than hooking up for a team seemingly primed for a Super Bowl run.
“I got the whole town, you feel me, though, riding with me,” he said. “So that’s good what they’ve got going on, all that good s— you just said, but I’ve got all Oakland behind me, though. The way we feel just about where we’re from and why we represent where we’re from so hard is because we know what the struggle is and how we get down. So every home game that I get to come to this m—–f—–, I’m probably going to be riding with the whole town.
“It ain’t like I’m saying, ‘I’m coming to y’all’s city and I’m going to ride with y’all.’ This is actually, I’m born and raised, bred, pissing in them hallways and running down them alleyways, I really did that right here. And now I get an opportunity to play here.
“So all of that you said is great and that’s good but this is more for, like, Oakland, though.”
Lynch has been a constant presence at the Raiders’ offseason program and was running with the first-team offense during Tuesday’s open-to-the-media practice.
The Oakland Tech High School and Cal product was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the first round of the 2007 draft and was traded to the Seahawks in 2010. He spent his year off traveling the globe and doing community work in Oakland.
And while Lynch joining the Raiders has been seen as an olive branch from the team to a fan base angry at losing the Raiders again (they moved to Los Angeles in 1982), he said he was unaffected by the public showing of affection.
“It was heartfelt but at the end of the day I still walk outside,” Lynch said. “Beside the billboards and all that, I really just get out with the people The billboards is for the commercial people, but when you get outside and you walk in the cracks, you get to find out what’s real.”