Marshawn Lynch has some big beast to mode in his new role as Oakland’s Oaklandest Raider, and the first item on the agenda is to make the customers forget that most of them are about to be ex-customers.
Lynch, who is a pro forma trade between the Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks away from repatriation with his ancestral home, will be a handy shield (pun intended) to those who want to string Mark Davis up from the highest light pole at Bushrod Park. At least he will be in the short term.
What he is as a football player two years from his best seasons remains to be seen. He turns 31 a week from Saturday, and 31-year-olds, even ones who have taken a year off from the game to rejuvenate a battered body and weary mind, do not tend to light up the night with their incandescent talents.
But Lynch could also defy the math because those best seasons were wondrous things indeed. And the closer he is to his Mode years, the greater the Raiders’ chances of doing the one thing that can save Davis from the ignominy that awaits him in this town.
Win the big one.
The Raiders’ proudest era is now 35 years old; that’s the last time they won the Super Bowl by eviscerating Washington. It’s been a hills-and-ravines existence since then, and the current Raiders just finished living down 12 years of horrendous existence.
They are, in the words of the prophets, a very live bet indeed.
They are also a very live bet on the way out of town, which means that for Oakland fans who have chosen to endure far more than a fan base should be expected to, the window will be open for three more years, max, before it shuts for good . . . or until they move back to Oakland in 2033 as part of their 20 years in/13 years out/20 years in migratory pattern.
Thus, Lynch will define at least some of the terms of the Raiders’ departure. If he is a key contributor to another parade, he will be remembered as the man who made the team’s departure a slightly more palatable one. That’s a nice way to never have to pay for another drink in your town ever again.
And for him, this is a win-win proposition. If he isn’t Lynchy enough for the fan base – that is, if his 31-year-old legs act the way most 31-year-old legs act in the modern NFL – at least he came with the best of intentions, and whatever bad feelings about the Las Vegas Raiders remain won’t touch him. After all, he will have chosen the OAKLAND Raiders, while most of his teammates will have been assigned to them.
Yes, that matters. At a time when Oakland’s renaissance-let is coming with the departures of two of their three professional sports teams, wanting Oakland has always played well with those who live in Oakland . . . as it should.
And while anyone can come home again, coming home this way plays exceedingly well. Marshawn Lynch has always understood this about his home, and if nothing else, he is genuine about Oakland.
So he will be a Raider at last, and no matter what kind of Raider he turns out to be, he will be an honored Oaklander no matter what.
But if he happens to be the grand marshal in the city’s final Super Bowl parade, well, being made the mayor without ever having to be elected is a nice gig, too. He just has a finite time to pull it off before Mark Davis reminds everyone that he owns the Oakland Renters.