ALAMEDA – March 27 was a dark day in the East Bay. The Raiders were formally approved to leave Oakland for Las Vegas by a vote of NFL owners, marking the second time the Silver and Black chose to abandon their native home.
Marshawn Lynch has an unbreakable attachment to it. Oakland's most popular resident and loudest champion was disappointed his neighbors were losing a point of civic pride in the near future.
The Raiders will move into a new Las Vegas stadium in 2020. Lynch wants no part of that.
He wanted to be an Oakland Raider before that opportunity moved away, and inspire young kids in their own backyard. That, more than anything else, brought Lynch out of retirement and into silver and black.
He talked about that decision after Tuesday's OTA session during a meeting with local media, and quickly pinpointed the moment he chose to come back.
"When I found out they were leaving. It's always been something, being from Oakland, that you want to play at home," Lynch said. "I had that opportunity. Maybe them staying wouldn't have been so big for me to want to come back and play, but knowing that they were leaving…"
Playing at home a unique opportunity to personalize his overarching message, that good things come from hard work and perseverance in adverse circumstances.
"A lot of the kids probably won't have an opportunity to see most of their idols growing up and being in their hometown (after the Raiders leave)," Lynch said. "With me being from here and continuing to be here, it gives them an opportunity to see somebody who actually did it from where they're from and for the team they probably idolize."
Oakland was electric after he agreed to a new contract and the Raiders acquired him from Seattle. Billboards went up, fans went nuts and a community raved over the chance to see its favorite player suit up for the local team.
"To be honest, it was heartfelt, but, at the end of the day, I still walk outside so, beside the billboards and all that, I get out with the people," Lynch said. "The billboards are for the commercials, but when you get outside and walk in the cracks, you get to find out what's real."
Lynch connects with Oakland like only a select few do, and he expects to feel that on game day. It drives him to play hard and play well far more than joining an AFC championship contender featuring Derek Carr, Amari Cooper and Khalil Mack.
"I got the town -- you feel me, though? – behind me," Lynch said. "That's good what they've got going on… but I have a whole new Oakland behind me, though. I mean, you know, 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 m----- f-----, I'm probably going to be ridin' with the whole town. When you're going into something like that, it ain't like, ‘I'm coming to y'all's city and I'm riding with y'all.
This is actually (where I was) born and bred and pissing in them hallways and running down alleyways. I really did that right here. Now I get an opportunity to play here. All that s--- you said (about the Raiders' rising stars) is great and that's good, but it's more for Oakland though."