BY TIM BOOTH, AP Sports Writer
SEATTLE (AP) — Marshawn Lynch was at the center of attention in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl on Sunday night.
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 game 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 fit with mounting evidence that the bruising running back is ready to move on from football.
The Seahawks official Twitter account later added the hashtag #ThankYouBeastMode to Lynch's original message and a spokesman said the tweet stood as the team's comment.
Lynch's teammates in Seattle took Lynch's message as a retirement statement. Russell Wilson, Doug Baldwin, Bruce Irvin, Paul Richardson and Richard Sherman were among the many teammates to pay tribute to Lynch on social media.
"Honor playing with one of the best running backs of all time!" Wilson, Seattle's quarterback, said on Twitter. "Going to miss sharing the backfield with you 24."
"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.
Seahawks owner Paul Allen replied to the team's statement on Twitter and thanked Lynch for "a great career as a Seahawk. So many memorable runs and quakes!"
Lynch's mother, Delisa Lynch, also posted a message to Twitter saying, "When one door closes God opens another one even better thank you Jesus!!!!!"
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 have 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.
Now that doesn't appear it will be an issue.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
for more features.