Following the Seattle Seahawks drafting of Rashaad Penny in the 2018 NFL Draft in April, observers far and wide have noted that the Seahawks appear to be attempting to get back to the strategy of running the football more in an attempt to regain the success of the earlier years of the Pete Carroll tenure. Many have argued that it was current Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch that made the team so successful, and that Lynch is a sure fire Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible.
Now, Lynch is good, for sure, and they certainly miss his presence in multiple aspects of the game, not just running the ball. In addition to that, the Seahawks certainly miss what Marshawn brought when it comes to pass protection, as this tweet from PFF shows.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the most Russell Wilson has ever been sacked over a three game period during his career involves the 2015 game against the Chicago Bears in which Lynch was injured and the two subsequent games he missed. Now, there were obviously other factors at play there as well, the team had added pass blocker extraordinaire Jimmy Graham in the offseason, as well as playing Drew Nowak at center, but those are a different article for a different day. Probably tomorrow or Friday.
Today I’m going to look at Marshawn’s Hall of Fame credentials and see where he ranks in terms of running backs that are not in the Hall in multiple categories. So, without beating around the bush, let’s get right to the numbers.
The most obvious number for running backs is rushing yards, so here’s a list of every running back who is not in the Hall of Fame who has more rushing yards than Lynch.
That puts Lynch in sixteenth place in rushing yards among all running backs not in the Hall of Fame. Even if he replicates his 2017 season in 2018, it will barely move him into the top ten, just behind Warrick Dunn who wasn’t even nominated for the Hall of Fame ballot this most recent season.
In fact, of the 108 former players on the 2017 ballot, 9 played running back and Lorenzo Neal was a fullback. Of those nine running backs, eight had more career rushing yards than Marshawn currently has, yet only two received enough votes to become semi-finalists, Roger Craig and Edgerrin James. Both Craig and James were prolific receivers while they played, so a look at where Lynch falls in total yards from scrimmage appears warranted. Thus, here’s a list of those with the most yards from scrimmage who are not in the Hall of Fame.
That is a ton of players I would personally put in the Hall of Fame before Marshawn, though I understand that a lot of fans won’t agree with that opinion. And that is looking only at the numbers.
Marshawn does come closer when looking at the number of touchdowns scored over the course of a career, as he current has 90 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns. That number is just below the cutoff at 100 combined rushing and receiving touchdowns which is a nearly automatic Hall of Fame induction. There are 24 players who have scored 100 or more offensive touchdowns in their NFL careers, with twenty of those already in the Hall. Of the four who are not in the Hall, three are not eligible, including Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Peterson and Antonio Gates, and the fourth is Shaun Alexander.
As noted, Lynch currently sits at 90 rushing and receiving touchdowns, surrounded by players like Priest Holmes (94), Edgerrin James (91), Ricky Watters (91), Corey Dillon (89) and Ottis Anderson (86). All of those players are eligible for Canton but have not made it. In short, statistically, it appears Marshawn does not quite measure up to the standards for the Hall just yet.
In the past twenty years there have been eleven running backs elected to the Hall, with those 11 averaging 12,623 yards during their careers. Only two backs have been elected in the past twenty years with fewer than 12,000 rushing yards, Floyd Little and Terrell Davis, both of whom happen to be former Denver Broncos. Whether that is a coincidence or whether the Broncos lobbying for them to make it made a difference can be discussed all day. However, at the end of the day, Marshawn simply doesn’t have stats that match the backs that have been inducted over the last two decades.
On top of not quite measuring up statistically, once off field issues are taken into account, it could be extremely difficult for Marshawn to make the Hall of Fame. There’s no need to rehash the details of every off field issue, as it’s fairly easy to understand that at least some voters are likely to be biased against Marshawn because of these matters.