Marshawn Lynch is a renaissance man.
I’ll forgive you if you missed this as you giggled at his Oakland-slang-filled quips and shout-outs, but that’s the phrase we use for men of remarkable talents and diverse interests. Marshawn is a clever, funny, loyal, giving and particularly business-savvy individual.
His return to the gridiron at the Coliseum is the stuff of fairy tales — a homecoming that would be too cheesy for a Hallmark movie if it weren’t true.
On April 26, the Oakland Raiders, Seattle Seahawks and Lynch finished a complicated unretirement-and-trade process that led to the running back’s signature on a new contract and the following post to his Twitter: “Yes Lawd 12th man I’m thankful but shit just got REAL I had hella fun in Seattle… But I’m really from Oakland doe like really really really from Oakland doe… town bizness breath on me.”
So began the Summer of Marshawn.
Let’s start with the more trivial matter of his football career. Marshawn joins a backfield with the diminutive Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington. Lynch will provide power to an offense that never seemed satisfied with Latavius Murray in that role.
He seems to fit perfectly as essentially the final piece in an offensive puzzle that already has an ascending young quarterback, a great offensive line, a young superstar at receiver and a few useful tight ends. He also seems to be a hell of a hard worker and a dream of a teammate.
Just ask his new co-workers:
GM Reggie McKenzie: “He has been great in meetings. He has been great on the field. … Off the field, he has meshed very well with the team and is already entrenched as one of the guys.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Downing: “He has showed that it’s important to him to integrate himself into the scheme and into the locker room. … We’re excited about where he’s at. What we’ve seen from him so far has been outstanding.”
O-lineman Donald Penn: “Getting Marshawn has been great. He brings a lot of energy here and a lot of momentum. … You all probably don’t know Marshawn, but he’s a pretty funny guy.”
Not only is he a pretty funny guy, but if you all don’t know he’s also a guy who has consistently been committed to his community, and to raising that community up with him and doing whatever he can to give back to it. He said as much in his only extended media appearance during the offseason program.
“To play in Oakland is a dream come true. … I got The Town — you feel me, doe? — behind me… The way we feel just about where we’re from and why we represent where we’re from so hard is because we know what the struggle is and how we get down. Every home game that I get to come to this mother fucker, I’m probably going to be ridin’ with the whole town.
“So, when you’re going into something like that … it ain’t like I’m saying, ‘I’m coming to y’all’s city and I’m riding with y’all.’ This is actually, like, born and raised and bred and pissing in them hallways and running down them alleyways, I really did that right here. And now I get an opportunity to play here. So all of that [stuff about the team being a contender] is great. That’s good. But this is more for Oakland, doe.”
Since that day in April when he inked his new deal (and long before then) Marshawn has put his money where his mouth is. His summer calendar of events is a laundry list of charitable efforts and community leadership through his Fam 1st Family Foundation, including but not limited to:
A “Coding & Cleats” summer camp at Oakland Tech High School with the Hidden Genius Project, where kids “learn how to build and use sport technology” in addition to 7-on-7 football sessions with the simple stipulation that you have to code before you put on your cleats…
A Fam 1st “Tattoo Party & Juiceman Lingerie Release” hosted by BeastMode apparel and featuring fellow NFLers and Oakland natives Josh Johnson (Lynch’s cousin) and Marcus Peters …
A massive #OaklandRideout, where Lynch — and a police escort — led a parade of hundreds of cyclists from Oakland Tech through the streets of Oakland and Berkeley …
A BeastMode partnership with a local yoga studio to raise money for local charities …
A pre-release, red carpet movie screening of War for the Planet of the Apes with local kids through Fam 1st …
A ticket giveaway for San Jose’s Raging Waters at his BeastMode store in Oakland (advertised by a flyer shouting, “FIRST 2000 KIDS FREE!!!” and “KID MUST BE PRESENT TO GET A TICKET!”) …
BEASTMODE-A-Business, an initiative in partnership with Shopify, Hingeto and Bold Commerce that put East Bay high school kids together with professionals to learn how to run an online business …
So much of what he’s done is focused on helping educate and empower the kids who are pounding the same pavement that Lynch did as a youngster. On August 20, he’s holding a back-to-school backpack giveaway at Oakland Tech.
With the Raiders set to leave after two more seasons in the East Bay — a fact that Lynch acknowledged played a big part in his decision to un-retire — The Town certainly deserves some good feelings, and Marshawn will deliver those in spades.
I expect him to deliver them on the field. But even if that promise remains unfulfilled, there is no doubt he will deliver them off the field, to the community, to the kids, to everyone he touches.
He’s the renaissance man Marshawn Lynch, and he’s the King of Oakland.
Matt Kolsky is a sports media professional (or something like that) who lives with an aging Shih Tzu/Schnauser mix in Berkeley. You can hear his podcast, The Toy Department, on iTunes or wherever podcasts are free. Find him on Twitter @thekolsky to share your personal feelings about this article or any other topic, he will respond to most Tweets that do not contain racial slurs.