Following the conclusion of the 2019 regular season, the Oakland Raiders will depart the Bay Area and head east. The team will officially become the Las Vegas Raiders after the new stadium's construction is complete, and they will leave a hole in the hearts of thousands of sports fans. Fortunately, Oakland native Marshawn Lynch is coming to the rescue.
Earlier this week, the former NFL running back told The Mercury News that he was set to become co-owner of a professional arena football team that will be based in Oakland. The Panthers, which references the Black Panthers movement of the 1960s, will debut next spring as a member of the Indoor Football League. This arena team won't replicate the Raiders, but it will provide an outlet for those wanting to watch professional football in Oakland. And as it turns out, Lynch actually stumbled into this new opportunity.
"My whole intention was to come back and play with them [Raiders] until they left," Lynch said to The Mercury News. "[Arena football] wasn't something I was looking at – not even a little bit. But when the opportunity presented itself – I'm a big dude on believing in timing and [stuff]. This, at the time, really made sense."
As he explained, Lynch originally went to Arizona earlier this year to watch his brother, Davonte Sapp-Lynch, during an Indoor Football League game. However, he ran into the future co-owner, Roy Choi (not the celebrity chef) and team president Scott McKibben (former Oakland Alameda Coliseum Authority Chief Operating Officer).
"I went to go check my brother out and I kind of ran into them after the game," Lynch said. "I had a good-ass time while I was at the game. When they said, 'We're going to bring a team to Oakland,' I didn't really believe that."
Lynch may not have believed Choi and McKibben when they said a professional team would be coming to Oakland, but he cannot deny that fact now. As a co-owner, he is now invested in this process and will be helping provide entertainment for his beloved community.
According to ESPN, the Oakland Panthers will play seven home games at the former home of the Golden State Warriors. Once known as the Oracle Arena, this building has been vacant since the Warriors departed to play at the Chase Center and has since taken on the name of the Oakland Arena. Now, however, the building will be filled with excited football fans, as well as Lynch.