Instant Debate

Is Marshawn Lynch a Hall of Famer?

On Sunday night, Marshawn Lynchtweeted a picture of cleats hanging up, indicating the 2015 season was his last in the NFL. Lynch topped 1,000 rushing yards in six of his nine seasons, compiling a total of 9,112 rushing yards (36th all time) and 74 rushing touchdowns (tied for 24th, with Earl Campbell and Leroy Kelly). The five-time Pro Bowler and one-time All-Pro shone in the playoffs, where he had 937 rushing yards (eighth all time) and nine rushing touchdowns (tied for seventh all time, with Jerome Bettis, Larry Csonka and Tony Dorsett). He helped the Seahawks win their first ever Super Bowl title, then took them right back to Super Sunday the next year. And, of course, who can forget when he went Beast Mode?

As you consider Lynch's place in the football pantheon, is he a Hall of Famer?

He absolutely is a Hall of Famer, as Marshawn embodied an entire city. The resurgence of the Seahawks would not have happened if not for him. They had an instant run game because of his presence; without him, Seattle wouldn't have won Super Bowl XLVIII or returned to the big game again the following year. I think Marshawn Lynch is close, but I don't think he quite makes the cut. I think he was fortunate to be with a Seahawks team that adhered to a run-heavy philosophy, meaning he had a bigger role than his counterparts on most other teams. He was a good back in a run-friendly system, but was he dominant enough to make the Hall? Consider that undrafted Seahawks rookie Thomas Rawls topped Lynch's career regular-season single-game high (153 rushing yards) twice, putting up 209 yards on the Niners and 169 yards against the Bengals.

Heck, Terrell Davis -- who had a similarly short career but notched a 2,000-yard season, won an MVP award, has two rings and is the all-time leader in playoff rushing average (142.5) -- can't get in (though I personally believe he should be in), making it hard to believe Lynch will. There are just too many guys on the fringes with him. If admittance into the Hall of Fame is based on merit, Lynch deserves a spot and a gold jacket. He has been the most prolific scorer as a running back since 2011 (51 rushing touchdowns) and ranks eighth all time in playoff rushing yards. Most important, Lynch put fear in the hearts of coaches and defenders around the NFL as the "heart and soul" of the Seattle Seahawks. Although the number crunchers will point to his rushing totals ranking behind some of his contemporaries, there is no disputing his impact as a workhorse runner in today's NFL. Thus, I would expect to see Lynch eventually walk through the hallowed halls in Canton. Marshawn Lynch should be in the Hall of Fame because he had a great career. He was instrumental in leading Seattle to back-to-back Super Bowls, and he was one of the league's best running backs for a short amount of time during his nine seasons in the league.

But I don't think he's a first-ballot guy. There are a lot of other great running backs who haven't gotten in -- for example, Fred Taylor. He finished with 2,500 rushing yards more than Marshawn and dominated the position, making a great impact for a longer period of time. Taylor has to get in, along with a few others; then Beast Mode can follow. No. Lynch would be a strong candidate had he played in the 1970s, but this is a different day. Voters probably would question the fact that he didn't surpass 10,000 yards rushing. He also was never the best back of his day, which was an honor that belonged to Adrian Peterson. Lynch certainly will be considered, because of his impact on a dominant Seahawks team and the bone-rattling runs he produced throughout his career. However, he will be hurt more by playing in two small markets (Buffalo and Seattle) and his refusal to engage with most members of the media. My view of what makes a player a Hall of Famer, and the process by which potential inductees are judged, has changed over the years. In the last couple of years, I've found that tracking numbers is less important than whether I thought I was seeing a Hall of Famer, per se. Terrell Davis' numbers aren't up there, but I sure thought Davis was a great player after seeing him destroy opponents in the postseason. Lynch is very similar in that regard, and he has other attributes that translate to him having a Hall of Fame career ... as I detailed in my conversation on this subject with Maurice Jones-Drew (another solid power back in his own right) in the NFL Now video posted above. When it comes to running backs, LaDainian Tomlinson is a sure bet. I would vote for Edgerrin James, too. As for Lynch, I would say he is borderline Hall of Fame material. He's been a very good back, especially in the playoffs. Perhaps if he had not been in Buffalo early in his career, he would have better numbers. Of course, you could say that about a lot of players who did not play for playoff teams.

I think I would vote for him, but it would depend on who he was up against that year.

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