The Oakland Raiders will be in Las Vegas soon. How soon is yet to be determined, but Las Vegas isn’t ready to host the franchise in 2017 so the team plans to play in Oakland for the time being.
It’s an odd, awkward, and uncomfortable situation for both the Raiders and the city of Oakland, but acquiring Marshawn Lynch could provide the perfect ambassador to smooth things over.
Marshawn Lynch is Oakland.
He was born and raised in the city and became a sports star in the East Bay during his prolific high school athletic career as a four-sport athlete in football, basketball, track, and wrestling at Oakland Technical High School. He then starred for the California Golden Bears just a few miles away.
While his NFL career took him to Buffalo and Seattle, Lynch was never far from Oakland. With former Buccaneers quarterback Josh Johnson, Lynch co-founded the Fam 1st Family Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of youth in the Oakland area.
“There ain’t too many who come back and give time to the kids in Oakland,” Delton Edwards, Lynch’s coach at Oakland Tech, told Seahawks.com in 2015. “That’s the one thing you can say about him, he always comes back and donates his time and money to the kids in Oakland. They love him, they love him to death.”
The Raiders have a chance to do big things in 2017 and beyond. Derek Carr, Khalil Mack, and co. took the team to a 12-4 record in 2016 — the first winning record for the Raiders since 2002 — and the young roster looks primed to improve.
But the Raiders are leaving Oakland and that will alienate plenty of fans in the city who loved and supported the team. Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green told reporters he wouldn’t attend another game if he was a Raiders fan in Oakland.
Lynch can’t fix that and he can’t make the Raiders stay. And ultimately, the team’s decision whether or not it should go after Lynch — who reportedly told the Raiders he plans to unretire — will depend on how convinced Jack Del Rio and Reggie McKenzie are that the 30-year-old running back still has gas left in the tank.
But if the Raiders pull the trigger and find a way to get Lynch, he’s the perfect person to build a bridge between the community in Oakland and the team while it’s still in the Bay Area.