Marshawn Lynch, the player who teammates have described as the Seahawks’ heart and soul, as their engine, as the identity of their offense, indicated on Twitter that he is retiring after a nine-year NFL career.
A man of few words, at least when it came to his public persona, Lynch tweeted only a picture of football cleats hanging from a wire, along with a peace sign during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 50. That post, along with the reaction of teammates on social media, seems to confirm Lynch’s decision to hang them up after a career that saw him earn Pro-Bowl honors five times, All-Pro honors twice and one Super Bowl title.
Lynch, who came to Seattle in a 2010 trade with Buffalo, rushed for 9,122 yards and 74 touchdowns in his career, including four straight seasons with more than 1,200 rushing yards and double-digit touchdowns from 2011 to 2014. But Lynch’s impact in Seattle went far beyond statistics. He ran with a ferocity that came to define the current era of Seahawks football, a style epitomized by his 67-yard “Beast Quake” run in the 2010 postseason that instantly became one of the most iconic plays in franchise history. The Seahawks’ decision to commit to the running game—and with that, to Lynch—midway through the 2011 season has often been pointed to as a turning point for the team, and the offense in particular.
“He means everything to this offense,” receiver Doug Baldwin said before last year’s Super Bowl. “I don't know where we would be without Marshawn Lynch. He is the engine. He is the heart and soul of this offense. Everything runs through him. Despite what everyone wants to think, Marshawn Lynch is this offense. I don't know what else to say about that.”
With Lynch leading one of the league’s best rushing attacks to go along with a dominant defense, the Seahawks became not just one of the best teams in the NFL over the past four seasons, but one of the most physical. During a four-year run that has been the most successful in team history, the Seahawks have finished in the top four in rushing yards all four seasons, including a franchise-record 2,762 yards in 2014.
“He's not carrying the football, he's carrying his team,” offensive line coach/assistant head coach Tom Cable said last year. “That's who he is. That's what he does.”