Barry Sanders and Jim Brown, the great running backs who walked away. Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider said in a radio interview that Marshawn Lynch may join this elite group of powerful Hall-of-Fame-bound backs who left the NFL when they were still near the top of their profession. Schneider shocked some in the football world by saying Lynch is “leaning toward retirement.” Lynch will take his golden cleats, apparently, and stroll into a golden sunset — while he still has his wits and his strength. (Well, not quite all his strength — Lynch sat out the last seven regular season games last year with injuries.)
If he retires, Lynch will have played nine seasons. Brown played nine and Sanders played ten. Despite having big careers, both are considered to have retired early. Sanders was just 31 and perhaps one good season (1,544 yards) away from breaking Walter Payton‘s all-time rushing record. (Payton played 13 seasons.) Jim Brown left the game at age 30, having led the NFL in rushing during all but one of his nine seasons. Excepting last season when he was injured, Lynch averaged more than 1,300 rushing yards a season since 2011. Lynch is 29 years old.