Bruh, I’m out


Graphic by Tam Duong Jr./The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,
News and Sports Editor

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has done things different his entire career. So why would retirement be any different?

It wasn’t.

While the Denver Broncos and legendary quarterback Peyton Manning were on the verge of an NFL championship, Lynch made his exit from the league. At 6:46 p.m. on Feb. 7 he announced his retirement via his @MoneyLynch Twitter account, not with words, simply with a pair of cleats hung from power lines and a peace sign emoji.

It was the perfect end to a career for somebody who has made a living out of doing things different.

Lynch is not a fan of the media. He rarely does in-depth interviews and generally only fulfills his NFL requirement of media availability. He gained some worldwide notoriety at last year’s Super Bowl 49 media day leading up to his team’s loss to the New England Patriots. For four minutes and 51 seconds he replied to 29 questions with a variation of the answer, “I’m just here so I won’t get fined,” to avoid a $500,000 fine from the NFL which requires players to make themselves available to the media for questions.

His defiant nature matched his playing style on the field as well. Lynch ran the ball like he had no concern for the safety of his body or others. He looked for contact and sought out his opponents to deliver the blow, a style not taken by many running backs because of the toll it takes on the body.

In a wildcard playoff game against the New Orleans Saints in 2011, Lynch batter-rammed his way for a 67-yard touchdown that won the game and helped coin his nickname “Beast Mode.” While most athletes fine tune their bodies with select foods, Lynch relied on the candy Skittles on the sideline for his extra boost, a tradition his mother started while he played football for the Oakland Dynamites in his youth.

Lynch is a North Oakland native from a tough neighborhood commonly referred to as “Ice City” by locals. His Bay Area roots shine in interviews when he makes references to Bay Area culture and music, something that fit his retirement announcement. While most media outlets took the cleats hanging from power or telephone lines as a symbolism of hanging up his cleats, the reference went much deeper than that. In urban inner city areas like the one Lynch is from, this is a symbol for drug dealing hotbeds.

Dealers would throw shoes on the lines near locations where drugs were sold as advertisement for those who were interested. Again, Lynch did things different by connecting his NFL career to his tough upbringing in drug-infested Oakland, something most superstars would stray from.

He bucks the trends even further when it comes to finances. While many players blow through their salaries through extravagant lifestyles, Lynch has done quite the opposite, living off of his endorsement income while he has conserved his nearly $50 million worth of career contract earnings, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. According to Forbes Magazine, Lynch earns nearly $5 million a year through endorsements with Nike, Pepsi, Skittles, Progressive and Activision.

Lynch recently put some of those savings to use when he opened a Beast Mode clothing store on Broadway in Downtown Oakland. Lynch’s cousin, fellow Oakland native and NFL quarterback Josh Johnson attended the store’s grand opening where Mayor Libby Schaaf gave a proclamation before the ribbon cutting ceremony on Feb. 5 during Super Bowl 50 weekend.

“This man has done so much for so many people,” Johnson said. “This store is just another way of him giving back to Oakland. He’s all about trying to pick this city up, positive change.”

Johnson and Lynch originally started Fam 1st Family Foundation in 2006 and officially in March 2011, “to improve the lives of children by mentoring them on the importance of education, literacy and self-esteem,” according to the foundation’s website.

Lynch and Johnson both grew up in troubled communities as underprivileged youth in Oakland and were passionate about helping others in the same situation long before their NFL days.

While there has been no official retirement announcement by Lynch or his camp, fans may have to settle for his original social media sendoff. Whether it was getting fined for wearing cleats with Skittles images on them during a game or doing donuts in a golf cart on the field after a win with the Buffalo Bills, Lynch has always done things the way he wants to. His retirement and post career choices should be no different.