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Marshawn Lynch is not a Hall of Famer

Washington v California Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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.

Running backs not in the Hall of Fame with more rushing yards than Marshawn Lynch

Player Rushing Yards Years Active
Player Rushing Yards Years Active
Frank Gore 14,026 2005-2017
Adrian Peterson 12,276 2007-2017
Edgerrin James 12,246 1999-2009
Fred Taylor 11,695 1998-2010
Steven Jackson 11,438 2004-2015
Corey Dillon 11,241 1997-2006
Warrick Dunn 10,967 1997-2008
Ricky Watters 10,643 1992-2001
Jamal Lewis 10,607 2000-2009
Thomas Jones 10,591 2000-2011
Tiki Barber 10,449 1997-2006
Eddie George 10,441 1996-2004
Ottis Anderson 10,273 1979-1992
LeSeanMcCoy 10,092 2009-2017
Ricky Williams 10,009 1999-2011
Marshawn Lynch 10,003 2007-2017

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.

NFL leaders in yards from scrimmage not in the Hall of Fame

Player Yards from Scrimmage Years Active
Player Yards from Scrimmage Years Active
Frank Gore 17,698 2005-2017
Tiki Barber 15,632 1997-2006
Larry Fitzgerald 15,613 2004-2017
Edgerrin James 15,610 1999-2009
Isaac Bruce 15,347 1994-2009
Warrick Dunn 15,306 1997-2008
Tony Gonzalez 15,141 1997-2013
Steven Jackson 15,121 2004-2015
Steve Smith 15,118 2001-2016
Ricky Watters 14,891 1992-2001
Matt Forte 14,468 2008-2017
Reggie Wayne 14,345 2001-2014
Adrian Peterson 14,291 2007-2017
Andre Johnson 14,239 2003-2016
Fred Taylor 14,079 1998-2010
Anquan Boldin 14,008 2003-2016
Henry Ellard 13,827 1983-1998
LeSean McCoy 13,470 2009-2017
Torry Hold 13,439 1999-2009
Ottis Anderson 13,335 1979-1992
Corey Dillon 13,154 1997-2006
Roger Craig 13,100 1983-1993
Hershel Walker 13,084 1986-1997
Irving Fryar 13,027 1984-2000
Earnest Byner 12,866 1984-1997
Eddie George 12,668 1996-2004
Ricky Williams 12,615 1999-2011
Thomas Jones 12,614 2000-2011
Hines Ward 12,511 1998-2011
Jamal Lewis 12,486 2000-2009
Jason Witten 12,448 2003-2017
Brandon Marshall 12,333 2006-2017
Jimmy Smith 12,286 1992-2005
Marshawn Lynch 12,133 2007-2017

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.