Insiders

Is Marshawn Lynch A Hall Of Famer?

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Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch dubiously announced his retirement on Super Bowl Sunday during the game as he tweeted a picture of his cleats with a peace sign.

The report of his retirement was later confirmed by his agent, Doug Henrickson.

It’s time to advance the story and go five years in the future.  Is Marshawn Lynch a Hall of Famer?

Lynch is a somewhat special case, as he doesn’t have the longevity of many who are enshrined in Canton and he has never been the best running back in football.

With that said, let’s look at his numbers (although we know that football isn’t a “numbers sport”).

  • Lynch has ran for 9,112 yards with a career yards per carry average of 4.3, with 83 total touchdowns (nine receiving).  
  • He has been a five-time Pro Bowler in his nine seasons and has one first-team All Pro honor (2012).  
  • His 9,112 rushing yards puts him at 36th on the all-time list and his 83 touchdowns put him 48th all time.  

Although he is way down on the all-time lists, football isn’t exactly a numbers game and he has played in a passing era.  That should count for something.

As for as comparisons, two of the most accurate ones for Lynch are Houston Oilers great Earl Campbell, who is in the Hall of Fame, and former New York Giants and Phoenix Cardinals running back Ottis Anderson who isn’t enshrined in Canton.

Campbell played eight years and gained 9,407 yards on the ground with 74 touchdowns.  He also earned five Pro Bowls.  Both are/were dominant physical backs and Lynch also had a better set of hands in the passing game.  Lynch has a Super Bowl victory under his best where he was the main offensive weapon.

Ottis Anderson was more of a stat compiler as he played in the same run-heavy era as Campbell.  In 14 seasons, Anderson rushed for 10,273 yards with 86 total touchdowns (five receiving).  Anderson made just two Pro Bowls in his career and matches Lynch with one Super Bowl title in 1991 with the Giants.

I think it’s safe to say that Lynch is a better running back than Anderson, despite the missing numbers.  Is he a better player than Campbell?  That’s tougher to determine, mainly due to the era they played.

Campbell was one of the most feared running backs in the NFL when the running back position was featured as the “rock stars” of the NFL.

Lynch was certainly a feared football player and although he wasn’t the preeminent running back of his generation (that notation goes to Adrian Peterson), he was the focus of the Seahawks offense.

The one thing that is pretty much a lock is that Lynch will not be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.  With Calvin Johnson already announcing his retirement (sort of) and Peyton Manning leaning that way, that will likely delay “Beast Mode’s” candidacy by at least one year.

As more players retire earlier, which seems to be a rising trend, it will help Lynch with the longevity argument.  What will also help him is the prominence of the passing game and rushing numbers are likely to go down.

The fact that Lynch has marketed himself well, ironically through not speaking to the media will help him in public perception, but not so much in the Hall of Fame voting room.  The Hall is voted on by longstanding media members and they have been known to hold a grudge (see Owens, Terrell).

Lynch will eventually be a Hall of Famer but it won’t be in his first and probably not on his second year of eligibility.  He was a special player but never was the best in his generation.  He will get in, but the writers will make him wait, just like he made them wait for any sort of quote.

Hopefully his Hall of Fame speech will be more than, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” as he told us all that were in attendance at Super Bowl XLIX Media Day.

 


About Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein

Charlie Bernstein is the managing football editor for Football Insiders and has covered the NFL for over a decade.  Charlie has hosted drive time radio for NBC and ESPN affiliates in different markets around the country, along with being an NFL correspondent for ESPN Radio and WFAN.  He has been featured on the NFL Network as well as Sirius/XM NFL Radio and has been published on Fox Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN as well as numerous other publications.