Despite the Oakland Raiders moving to Las Vegas next season, the town won’t be without a football team.
On Tuesday, it was announced that former Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch has co-founded and will co-own the Oakland Panthers, who will play in the Indoor Football League. The team is set to play at the former Oracle Arena, where the Golden State Warriors called home before moving to the Chase Center in San Francisco.
Lynch has co-founded and will co-own an indoor football team — the Oakland Panthers — which will begin play at the Oakland Arena (formerly Oracle Arena) this spring.
The Panthers — a nod to Oakland’s Black Panthers history of the 1960s — will be a member of the Indoor Football League. The team will formally announce its ownership group, name, and head coach, former Piedmont High head coach and A-11 offense co-creator Kurt Bryan, at a Tuesday press conference.
Lynch wanted to remain with the Raiders until the team left town for Las Vegas. That wound up not happening, and instead he is making sure Oakland still has a football team that they can support.
“My whole intention was to come back and play with them until they left,” Lynch said. “[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.”
The opportunity came up when Lynch was attending an Indoor Football League game earlier this year. He was watching his young brother, Davonte Sapp-Lynch, play for the Nebraska Danger and began conversations with co-owner Roy Choi and others, who were aiming to bring a team to Oakland.
The veteran running back has yet to announce his retirement, but isn’t currently signed with an NFL team. Lynch rushed for 376 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 4.2 yards-per-carry in six games for the Raiders during the 2018 season. The former first round pick also played for the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks during his NFL career.
Lynch had announced his retirement from football in 2016, but returned to play for the Raiders in 2017.