If one play could get you into the Hall of Fame, Marshawn Lynch would be a first ballot Hall-of-Fame lock.
If a classic nickname could do it, Beast Mode would be a selling point for enshrinement.
If post-season touchdown runs were enough, he’d ride into Canton on roller skates.
If knowing how to call attention to yourself without seeming to want anyone to pay attention was the trick, Lynch’s bust would be at the sculptor’s awaiting the go-ahead to begin hammering even though Lynch won’t be eligible to be on the Pro Football Hall of Fame ballot until 2024.
When that ballot with Lynch’s name on it finally does arrive, he will offer up an interesting case for himself. In 12 seasons in the NFL, Lynch rushed for 10,413 yards, which presently leaves him 29th all-time in rushing yards, yet he never once led the league in rushing.
His 85 rushing touchdowns leave him 16th all-time, and his 12 post-season rushing touchdowns are tied for fourth best of all-time alongside Hall-of-Famers Terrell Davis and John Riggins. He was money around the goal line, but half the time seemed less than impactful.
Lynch was a snow plow with a fifth gear, a power back with explosive acceleration and a relentless aggression best exhibited in a run that became known as the “Beast Quake.” On his way to a 67-yard touchdown in the playoffs against the New Orleans Saints, Lynch broke nine tackles and rag-dolled Saints’ cornerback Tracy Porter, throwing him to the ground with one arm as he approached him.
That run drove the crowd into such a frenzy that people kept leaping up and down frenetically, their reaction registering on a seismograph 100 yards from the Seahawks’ home grounds. That run alone seems Hall-of-Fame worthy, frankly.
But is Lynch?
That will be the interesting and difficult question that will surely cause intense debate among the Hall’s 49 voters and Lynch’s many supporters and detractors. He was a 2010 all-decade selection, yet only once was named first-team All-Pro. He rushed for over 1,000 yards six times and averaged 4.2 yards per rush during his career with a nose for the end zone, yet retired three times and sometimes was limping as hard as he ran.
He also had a keen eye for how to ignore the media while also becoming a social media phenomenon and a pitch man for Skittles, which he used to eat after every touchdown he scored. He also fronted for what became Beast Mode apparel and a number of other commercial and charitable ventures, including doing a string of national TV ads that have made him a spokesman for Uber Eats fast-food home delivery,
Skittles, Subway, Frito-Lay, Xbox and Pepsi while at the same time often saying publicly he didn’t want to speak. Yet he had, and is still having, a Hall-of-Fame ad campaign career to say the least. Or should I say The Beast?
But is becoming the 31st player in NFL history to rush for over 10,000 yards enough to give such a player a spot in the most exclusive venue in sports without ever having even once led the league in rushing?
Does being a clever master showman count for something? Does being smart enough to avoid an NFL fine for not cooperating with the media during the lead up to Super Bowl XLIX by standing at a podium during a mandatory media session, only to answer every question with, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined?” mean a thing? (The answer is a resounding NO, by the way).
When you have the kind of season he had in 2012, where he rushed for 1,590 yards and averaged 99.4 yards per game, is that enough when it is combined with his career production to make you a legend of the game?
Certainly it was Hall-of-Fame worthy the way he “announced” his retirement on February 7, 2016. A day after Super Bowl 50, Lynch didn’t say a word. He just posted a photograph on Twitter of his cleats hanging overhead from a telephone line.
That retirement didn’t last long and has been joined by at least two more but it would seem likely that this season he is finally done with pro football. So is what he did enough for inclusion in Canton?
You may have to go Beast Mode to convince some people he belongs or persuade others that he doesn’t, but don’t count him out. After all, he refused to talk, yet got the Mars Candy Company to pay him to be a spokesman.
Others have been lining up since his third and likely final retirement to convince him to pitch their products after the Seahawks’ season ended in defeat in 2019 . He’s been an All-Pro at that more times than he was an All-Pro running back. But he was one of the best backs of his era, and, if you’re that, you’re halfway through the door to Canton it would seem.
Marshawn Lynch was a man who could run by you, over you or - if you insisted - through you. In a few years maybe he can Beast Mode his way into through the doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Like most of those yards he gained, it won’t come easy, but who ever thought a guy who refused to speak could become an All-Pro product spokesman?
Probably not even Marshawn Lynch. But there he is. One day he will also be in Canton.