Although he’s not carried the ball once in a game for the Raiders, Marshawn Lynch’s mass appeal grows. From playing in Seattle to coming home to Oakland, Lynch’s reach extends nationally. For the first time in almost two decades, a Raiders player transcends the field. Everyone, from casual fan to diehard knows Number 24. Sooner or later, people will all take notice of what’s going on in Oakland. With this in mind, here are a few reasons why Lynch became the off-field face of the Raiders.
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I live in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the middle of Packer territory. Since Lynch became a Raider, I’ve seen a dozen or so Lynch jerseys. In a town of 50,000, roughly two thousand miles away from California, a bigger statement does not occur. Of the dozen jerseys, I asked five if they were fans of the Raiders. One said yes, that he went to the AFC title game versus the Titans. The other four were younger and said that Lynch’s arrival prompted them to fully invest in the team. Now, like it or not, bandwagon fans exist everywhere. Granted, many diehards have no use for these people. Yet, realize that new fans buy merchandise too. Plus, we all started as fans somewhere. One new fan cited this video as a reason. The joy on Lynch’s face speaks volumes.
With that said, Marshawn Lynch is the top selling jersey in the NFL. For a team that he’s never suited up for, that is quite the accomplishment. More importantly, his jersey remains the top seller in fourteen states. Think about that. In other words, Lynch’s 24 tops the list in Iowa! With the Vikings, Chiefs, Bears and Packers bordering their state, Iowans went BeastMode. Of all the stats regarding this, that stands out most.
Without a doubt, Lynch is a physical runner with a ferocious style. Yet, off the field, he appears a fun-loving, civic-minded individual. To an outsider, no one represents Oakland with such honest loyalty more. When he talks about his city, you feel the love and reverence. On the other hand, many unenlightened types still hold grudges about his short interviews and curt answers. Regardless, Lynch does not care about being loved by reporters. He’s not here for them, nor will he bow. In essence, that is what makes him so popular. In urban terms, Lynch keeps it real all of the time. For some, that rings as selfish. No, it rings as someone who helps his community. Everyone can’t be phony in front of a mic. The real test is earning millions and not changing on the inside.
As mentioned, Derek Carr and Khalil Mack lead the Raiders on the field. Off of it, there may be no greater representative of an organization’s heart or philanthropy than Marshawn Lynch.