ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Is there room in the Oakland Raiders locker room for both Chucky and Beast Mode?
It's a question we posed on Tuesday, before Jon Gruden was welcomed back with a lavish media conference, and it's a question Gruden himself would like an answer to in the not-too-distant future.
Gruden, you see, has never met Marshawn Lynch. Not as the coach of Lynch's favorite boyhood football team in Oakland during Lynch's early teen years. Not as a broadcaster on ESPN's "Monday Night Football" the past nine seasons, when Lynch became an NFL household name.
"I asked for Marshawn Lynch in production meetings and I never got to meet him," Gruden said during his conference amid laughter because, yes, Lynch avoids controlled interactions with the media like he does would-be tacklers in the open field.
"So I'm anxious to sit down with Marshawn and meet him. We'll talk about his future and the Raiders. I can't wait. He came back to the Raiders for similar, I think, reasons that I did. I think he loves Oakland. I think he loves the Raiders and guys like him interest me, so I'm looking forward to talking to him."
No doubt Lynch marches to the beat of his own drum, and he can be seen as a distraction in a young and impressionable locker room.
But he was also the Raiders' most productive offensive player in the second half of a disappointing 6-10 season after coming out of a one-year retirement.
Project his stats from his last eight games over a full 16-game season and Lynch has 1,250 rushing yards with 10 rushing TDs. His 50 missed tackles forced over the whole season were the sixth-most of any running back in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
Lynch, who turns 32 in April, has yet to say if he will return, though the Raiders appear willing to honor the second-year of his two-year deal, which will pay him a base salary of $4 million in 2018 and carry a salary cap number of $6 million. He is due a $1 million roster bonus on the fifth day of the new league year, on March 18.
Cut Lynch, who became the 31st member of the NFL's 10,000-yard rushing club, and the Raiders save $6 million against the cap, with no dead money.
Gruden, whose last game coaching the Raiders was in the Tuck Rule Game on Jan. 19, 2002, returned to Oakland to close out some "unfinished business" he said.
Lynch said he came out of retirement to play for the Raiders when word came that the franchise was moving to Las Vegas in 2020.
"The way we feel just about where we're from and why we represent where we're from so hard is because we know what the struggle is and how we get down," Lynch said last summer of growing up in Oakland. "So, every home game that I get to come to this m-----f------, I'm probably going to be riding with the whole town.
"It ain't like I'm saying, 'I'm coming to y'all's city and I'm riding with y'all.' This is actually like, born and raised and bred, and pissing in them hallways and running down them alley ways. I really did that right here and now I get an opportunity to play here."
Their missions are similar. Now it's a matter of Gruden getting that sit down with Lynch.