Marshawn Lynch's to the Seahawks could mean several things for both himself and Seattle heading into the 2020 season. Lynch, who showed last season that he still has a nose for the end zone, would be able to provide depth and leadership for a Seattle team that managed to win 11 games in arguably the NFL's most competitive division in 2019. From an individual standpoint, Lynch would also have an opportunity to add to his already impressive career resume, a resume that may one day be in display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Statistically, Lynch is knocking on the door as it relates to having a Canton-worthy career. For starters, he's a member of the 2010s All-Decade Team, a distinction that carries considerable weight amongst Hall of Fame voters. Lynch is 29th all-time in career rushing yards and is one of just 31 players to reach at least 10,000 yards rushing. His 85 career touchdown runs is 16th all-time, ahead of Hall of Fame backs Jim Taylor, Edgerrin James, and Earl Campbell (among others) and just behind Hall of Famers Jerome Bettis, Franco Harris, Eric Dickerson, and Curtis Martin.
Lynch's postseason success further strengthens his Hall of Fame argument. He's currently eighth all-time in postseason career rushing, with the seven running backs ahead of him already owning busts in Canton. The man right behind him on the list, Larry Csonka, also owns a gold jacket.
John Riggins, who is seventh all-time in postseason rushing, is the player whose career is most similar to Lynch's. Like Lynch, Riggins enjoyed a brief retirement before resuming his career. Riggins, who also possessed a physical running style, literally carried the Redskins to a championship in 1982, rushing for a playoff record 610 yards in Washington's four playoff victories. The following season, Riggins led the NFL in rushing touchdowns while helping the Redskins return to the Super Bowl, where their bid to repeat as champion fell short against an extremely talented Raiders squad.
Lynch had a similar run with the Seahawks. In the 2013 playoffs, he scored four touchdowns in Seattle's three playoff victories that included a win over Denver in the Super Bowl. The following season, Lynch led the league in rushing touchdowns for a second straight season while helping the Seahawks make a return trip to the Big Game. Like Riggins, Lynch's team fell short in their quest to win back-to-back titles, as Seattle opted not to give the ball to their best player in the closing seconds of their 28-24 loss to New England. But that can hardly be blamed on Lynch.
Beyond their similar rushing styles and the success their teams enjoyed, Riggins and Lynch are the owners of colorful personalities that helped make them two of the most popular players in their respective eras. Riggins, who was coaxed out of retirement by Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, famously offered Gibbs a beer when Gibbs visited at his home before the start of the 1981 season. The story goes that when Gibbs politely declined the offer, Riggins decided to drink both his and Gibbs' beer at the same time. Gibbs left the meeting hoping to trade Riggins if Riggins decided to come out of retirement. That plan was quickly foiled, however, after Riggins called Gibbs to tell him that he would return under one condition: that a no-trade clause was included in his contract.
Things certainly worked out for Gibbs, Riggins and the Redskins. Riggins, who rushed for more yards in his 30s than he did in his 20s, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, seven years after hanging up his cleats for a second and final time at age 36. Like Riggins, Lynch has also chosen to continue his career well into his 30s, a decision that will likely strengthen his Hall of Fame chances. And while Lynch's time as a featured back is likely over, the impact, and the memories, that he could still create may be enough to push his career over the top as it relates to Hall of Fame status.
Great moments are possibly more important than having great stats.
There are several examples of players in the Hall of Fame that are there because of great moments and not because they put up big numbers. The one thing going for Lynch is that he has both the numbers and the moments that could one day lead to his induction in Canton. Had he been given the ball at the goal line at the end of Super Bowl XLIX, Hall of Fame president David Baker would probably already be making space for Lynch in Canton. That being said, Lynch, who scored four touchdowns in his three games with the Seahawks last season, has a chance to make more memories now, assuming he and Seattle come together for a third -- and perhaps final -- go-around.
If Lynch does decide to come back, it could make all the difference as it relates to his Hall of Fame candidacy. And if he ever does earn induction into the Hall of Fame, expect a large contingency of his fans to be there -- with large amounts of Skittles -- as well.