Running Back Marshawn Lynch
Talk about a homecoming for, Marshawn Lynch.
When the news broke that the All-Pro running back would be joining the Silver and Black, the NFL universe embraced him with open arms, but no one was more excited than Raider Nation, and his hometown of Oakland, Calif.
From the moment No. 24 joined the team back in April, the anticipation of his inevitable debut at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum as a Raider snowballed, and continued to build leading up to Sunday's game against the New York Jets.
Don't get me wrong, Raider Nation is always a passionate group, and always shows their support for members of the Silver and Black, but you could tell there was a certain feeling in the air on Sunday.
Over the loudspeaker, as is tradition, the announcer began naming off the game's offensive starters for the Raiders, and when Lynch's number was called, the Coliseum erupted.
But while this was his moment, his time to soak in the cascading applause from the rafters, Lynch ran out of the tunnel escorted by his fellow running backs, Jalen Richard, and DeAndré Washington. It was a special moment for the former University of California Berkley Golden Bear, and his Head Coach knew it.
"I know he was really happy to have his first game go like that," said Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio during his postgame press conference.
With the introductions out of the way, it was time for some football, which is something Lynch is particularly good at, and it showed Sunday. Even though he only rushed 12 times for 48 yards, it was the way in which he ran, and punished those who got in his way, that really drew the attention of those in attendance.
In the second quarter, with 23 seconds left in regulation, the Raiders found themselves on the Jets two-yard line, and lined Lynch up in the backfield alongside Carr in the shotgun formation. Following the snap, No. 4 let "Beast Mode" get to work, as he handed the ball off and watched the 5'11", 215-pound running back barrel his way into the end zone.
As you'd expect, Raider Nation went into a frenzy, and met Lynch's first touchdown as a Raider with a clamorous roar. The score would put the Raiders up 21 to 10 as they entered halftime, and from that point on it was a celebration in the Coliseum.
When Carr and Co. returned from the locker room, they wasted no time getting back to work. Following wide receiver Michael Crabtree's third touchdown of the game, Oakland ft. DJ Mustard by Vell came blaring over the speakers, and what ensued next was nothing short of greatness.
Clearly caught up in the moment, and at home in his environment, Lynch started dancing, and as rapper E-40 would say, "shook them dreads," much to the approval of Raider Nation.
To put it plainly, the Raiders 45-20 victory over Jets was a party, and the atmosphere was electric, due in large part to the presence of Oakland's own in Lynch. There will only be one home debut for him, but you can hang your hat on the fact that every time he takes the field at the Coliseum it'll be a celebration.