SEATTLE — Leave it to Marshawn Lynch to be at the center of attention in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.
Except this time, Lynch may have given the surest sign he’s on the verge of retirement.
Lynch, the mercurial Seattle Seahawks running back, sent a tweet during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Super Bowl with a pair of cleats hanging from a power or telephone line, along with an emoji depicting a peace sign. It certainly wasn’t a definitive statement that Lynch is ready to call it a career, but it would fit with a mounting stack of evidence that the bruising running back is ready to move on from football.
Lynch’s teammates in Seattle were certainly taking his tweet as a statement of retirement. Doug Baldwin, Bruce Irvin, Paul Richardson and Richard Sherman were among the many teammates to pay tribute to Lynch on social media.
“Salute to my guy @MoneyLynch ... It was an honor sharing the field with you,” Sherman wrote on Twitter.
“To one of the greatest teammates I’ve ever had the pleasure of suiting up with. Salute. #Beastmode,” Baldwin posted on Instagram.
Messages left for Lynch’s representatives were not immediately returned.
The tweet from Lynch also backed statements from Jan. 22 by Seattle general manager John Schneider in a pair of radio interviews that indicated Lynch was leaning toward retirement. Schneider said in separate interviews with two Seattle radio stations that he believes Lynch is leaning toward calling it a career after an injury-filled 2015 season.
Schneider first appeared on KIRO-AM, the team’s flagship station, saying the team was going to give Lynch time and leeway to decide what he wants to do, but added he was “under the impression” Lynch was leaning toward retirement.
Later on KJR-AM, Schneider hedged his comments slightly, but reiterated that he thought Lynch was considering stepping away.
“I really, honestly don’t know at this point,” Schneider said on KJR. “If you put a gun to my head I would say he is leaning toward retirement. But I think with Marshawn you never really know. He’s a fierce competitor. We just have to handle it the right way in terms of showing him as much respect as we possibly can for everything he’s done for this organization.”
ESPN reported earlier Sunday without identifying its sources that Lynch had been telling close friends he was planning to retire.
Lynch will turn 30 in April and is coming off an injury-plagued 2015 season where he was limited to just seven games in the regular season and one of Seattle’s two playoff games. Lynch was bothered by hamstring and calf issues early in the season and later missed the final seven regular-season games with an abdominal injury that required surgery. Lynch returned for the NFC divisional playoff game at Carolina but was mostly a non-factor with the Seahawks falling behind 14-0 in the opening moments of the loss.
Lynch was limited to just 111 carries and 417 yards in the regular season, the first season of his career where injuries have been a significant factor.
Lynch would cost the Seahawks $11.5 million against the salary cap for the 2016 season, a massive number for a running back of his age, but Schneider had indicated changes would be needed if Lynch wanted to return.