For a reporter, Marshawn Lynch was beyond annoying. He made the media look like fools. He was an anti-hero that made our jobs harder while ingratiating himself to all those fans who can’t stand the reporters who feed them all their information.

And, also Lynch was a fantastic football player who grabbed his crotch when he scored touchdowns and who ate Skittles while on the sidelines and who eschewed talking to reporters but who didn’t seem to mind talking when he was marketing himself for money (or when he was discussing his commitment to charity).

Lynch was complicated and talented and, simply put, a pain in the ass. More than anything, Lynch was a unique character in the buttoned-down world of the National Football League, and if he actually announced his retirement on Sunday night, it was the ideal way for him to go.

Lynch didn’t talk to anybody. He didn’t make himself entirely clear. He was selfish, trying to draw attention away from the Super Bowl, and yet also understated, making his announcement at a time when it would draw the least amount of notice.

Here was the tweet that said so very little but implied so very much.

What does that say to you? What does the literal image of cleats being hung up for good and the peace-out emoji tell us about Lynch? It tells me that Lynch will never change, and no matter how you feel about that, he doesn’t care one little bit.

Lynch has been a great football player, at times one of the most dangerous running backs in the game. His shining moment on the field — the one that many of us will never forget — was his Beast Mode run in the 2010 playoffs vs. the Super Bowl-defending Saints that registered on the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network and caused SB Nation writer Matt Ufford to reminisce, “The sky ripped open with noise. A roar beyond sound, a physical thing more industrial than human. The earth shook.”

That was the great Lynch, the one who could be a borderline Hall of Fame candidate, the one who didn’t have to speak a single word.

Then, there was the guy many of us disliked. The one who made us look like idiots. He had spent the early part of his career in trouble with the law — his driver’s license was stripped in 2008 after a hit-and-run accident in which the judge said his behavior “constituted a reckless disregard of human life or property,” and he pleaded guilty the next year to a misdemeanor gun charge — and he spent the later part of his career pulling stunts like this.

And this  …

And this …

My only personal dealing with Lynch occurred during the Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day, five days before the Seahawks would beat the Denver Broncos in New Jersey. Lynch was off to the side of the arena, situated next to those teammates who didn’t warrant their own podium. He stood there and refused to answer questions, but he also declined to leave the area so the NFL couldn’t fine him. He hid for a while in the bowels of the Prudential Center, and he silently hid in plain view behind his sunglasses and under his Seahawks hoodie.

It was an embarrassment for the reporters, for the NFL, and for his coaching staff. But probably not for Lynch, because Lynch didn’t care. He never cared about that kind of show and never cared about fulfilling that part of his job. Yet, there’s no doubt that his fans love him and his teammates feel the same way. They call him the best teammate for which they could ask.

“Marshawn is a great friend,” Michael Robinson, who played with Lynch in Seattle, said last year while referencing a 2013 illness that sent him to the hospital. “People don’t realize when I went through what I went through, he was the first person at the hospital, the first person at my bedside at home. And when my wife had to go to the store, he was there to watch my kids because I couldn’t do it.”

And after his announcement Sunday, Lynch’s teammates responded on social media.

In reality, Lynch’s time with the Seahawks probably was finished anyway. After nine years in the league, he’s slowed down and become injury prone. He’ll be 30 in April. He’d be owed $9 million for the 2016 season, and with the emergence of Thomas Rawls this season, Lynch has become replaceable. The media likely won’t miss having him around, and the NFL, because he was such a pain in the ass to the league as well, probably won’t be sad to see him go.

But for those who love individualism, those who love a little rebellion, those who love a pair of neon green cleats hanging from a wire that was tweeted on the most important day of the NFL — when the attention was focused elsewhere until, for a brief moment, it wasn’t — Lynch’s absence won’t be filled easily.

Peyton Manning was asked multiple times Sunday night if he would retire after winning his second Super Bowl crown. Manning is the NFL’s hero — its smiling face — and the league will pine after him when he’s gone. But the anti-hero had one last moment on Sunday night as well, and though it was selfish and cryptic, it was also profoundly Lynch. It was profoundly perfect.

About Josh Katzowitz

Writes sports for Forbes and covers Internet culture for the Daily Dot. Formerly covered the NFL for and college sports for the now-defunct Cincinnati Post. Also has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Washington Post. Has penned books about Johnny Manziel, Sid Gillman and the University of Cincinnati football program.