Marshawn Lynch just lifted the Seattle Seahawks to their second consecutive Super Bowl appearance with yet another dominant playoff performance, racking up 157 yards -- including a crucial 24-yard scoring run late in the fourth quarter -- to help power a comeback for the ages in the NFC title game. Seeing as how Lynch is poised to potentially help the Seahawks capture their second Lombardi Trophy in as many years, let's consider the long-term legacy of "Beast Mode."
Lynch currently ranks 35th all time with 8,695 career yards -- but there are just three active players with higher totals than him (Steven Jackson, Frank Gore and Adrian Peterson). Moreover, in his past two seasons in Seattle, Lynch -- who is just 28 -- has averaged 1,281 yards per campaign; if he keeps up that pace for three more seasons, he can reach the top 10. He also ranks 13th in postseason rushing yards with 815, more than any active player.
- Elliot Harrison @HarrisonNFL
Lynch might need another ring and another monster campaign
Let me say this before I get into my answer: I love watching Marshawn Lynch play -- how he competes and legitimately energizes both sides of the ball in Seattle. I don't care that he doesn't want to talk to the media. He is a GREAT player.
But I don't think he's a Hall of Famer. Not yet. He's played eight years in the league, and six were outstanding. Since 2011, he has not only produced, but been one of the premier running backs in the league. That said, that kind of time span is generally not long enough to land anybody in the Hall of Fame, much less Lynch. Think of Terrell Davis, who played just seven years and is still waiting to be inducted. Davis, after all, was the best running back in the league in the back end of the '90s. Has Lynch ever been considered the No. 1 back in the NFL? Davis also ran for 1,750 and 2,008 yards in his last two healthy seasons. Lynch has never even really approached those figures.
While he might be this era's power back, analogous to John Riggins or Jerome Bettis, both those guys played for more than a decade and have career numbers that far outpace Beast Mode's. Currently, Lynch is 35th all time in rushing. I know: Power backs like him usually don't pile up NFL-leading totals. But Bettis ranks sixth and Riggins 17th on the all-time list. And while we're at it, Bettis is still waiting for his Canton call. (We'll see what happens this year ...)
Lynch might need a second ring and perhaps another big year. Considering how the voting has gone down for running backs over the past decade, it'll be a tough sell without a few more substantial skins on that wall.
- Gil Brandt @Gil_Brandt
Another big playoff game will give Lynch a puncher's chance
It is much harder now than it used to be for a running back to get to Canton. A spot that might have gone to a ball-carrier 20 years ago would likely go to a quarterback or even a pass rusher today, thanks to the emphasis on the aerial game. The bar for running backs is going to be extremely high going forward; future Hall hopefuls will have to have played for a winning team, won a Super Bowl (or two) and been a truly dominant force on the field.
Lynch's career obviously has taken off since he was traded to the Seahawks in 2010. The questions about him will center on his ability to thrive outside of Seattle's ball-control offense. Yes, he had a pair of 1,000-yard seasons in Buffalo, but why were the Bills so willing to part ways with him? The doubts will only intensify if he heads to another team in the future and falters.
All that said, his playoff rushing total really does stand out. If Lynch goes off again on Super Bowl Sunday, posting, say, another 150-yard effort, that would vault him up to No. 8 all time, just below Hall of Famer John Riggins, with whom he would then compare favorably -- and who also played in back-to-back Super Bowls (XVII and XVIII). And Lynch would have one more ring than Riggins; the Redskins back was the MVP of XVII while leading Washington to a win with 166 yards and a score, but his team lost to the Raiders in XVIII.
- Charley Casserly @CharleyCasserly
Lynch can't stand with recent Hall of Fame backs yet
Another Super Bowl win -- especially if he has a huge day -- will ensure Lynch is talked about as an excellent big-game player, but I can't say he's a Hall of Fame back at this point in his career. Think of the backs to enter the Hall recently, luminaries like Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk and even Curtis Martin. Through eight seasons, all had more rushing yards -- Smith had 11,234, Faulk had 9,442 and Martin had 10,361 -- than Lynch does now (8,695), and I can't put him with those backs at this point.
Ultimately, Lynch's path to the Hall is in his hands, and it will be dictated by how and where he decides to finish his career.
- Dave Dameshek @Dameshek
It appears quite possible at the moment, but we need extended Beast Mode-age
Lynch's four-plus years in Seattle -- filled with massive production and iconic plays -- will likely put him in the Hall. But it's not a lock. Let's say he chases the money when he gets the chance and winds up on a bad team. It's not a perfect comparison, but consider the career of Randy Moss, who, after his seventh season in Minnesota, had a better HOF résumé than Lynch does after eight years in the NFL. Moss, however, damaged his candidacy with the two lost seasons he spent in Oakland after being traded. Had it not been for Moss' resurgence in New England, the chances of him getting a gold jacket would be more gray than black-and-white. At 28, Lynch can't afford to similarly waste any years on a lousy roster.