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Ex-NFL star Marshawn Lynch joins ownership group of Oakland men's soccer club

Former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch last played in the NFL during the 2019-20 season. File Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI
Former Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch last played in the NFL during the 2019-20 season. File Photo by Derik Hamilton/UPI | License Photo

April 16 (UPI) -- Former NFL star running back Marshawn Lynch has joined the ownership group of the Oakland Roots of the United Soccer League Championship.

The 34-year-old Lynch, an Oakland native, was a prominent advocate for his hometown during his 12-year NFL career.

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"Growing up in The Town, we always could count on the pro teams in this area but with most of those ones that I grew up with gone, I knew the minute I heard about the opportunity to join Oakland Roots, it wasn't just something I wanted to do, it was something I had to do," Lynch said in a statement Friday.

Lynch initially retired from the NFL following the 2015 season, but he returned and played for the then-Oakland Raiders from 2017-18 before their relocation to Las Vegas. He then retired a second time until he reunited with the Seattle Seahawks in 2019 for their playoff run.

Lynch, a five-time Pro Bowl selection who won a Super Bowl in the 2013-14 campaign, played for the Buffalo Bills (2007-10), Seahawks (2010-15, 2019) and Raiders (2017-18) in his NFL career.

"From the start, we have tried to build an ownership group that was excited about more than just pro sports, but also about Oakland and our purpose," Roots co-founder and CMO Edreece Arghandiwal said in a news release. "We couldn't be more proud to welcome someone who has long been an inspiration to Oaklanders and all of us at Roots."

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The Roots were founded in 2018 and played their first two seasons in the National Independent Soccer Association, which is the third-tier league of the United States professional soccer system. Last year, the men's soccer club announced it would join the USL Championship in the second tier.

The team opens its season May 8 at the Phoenix Rising.

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