When Tampa released John Lynch in 2003, hundreds joined him at Clearwater beach, where the only things saltier than the Gulf of Mexico were the tears of a broken-hearted player and the fan’s feelings towards the organization for tossing one of their most favorite players to the curb like a stack of used newspapers.
Lynch loved sports. He played various versions of them throughout his youth while standing out in two specifically: Baseball and Football. He continually stood out in those two sports throughout his collegiate years at Stanford University. One of the hardest hitting safeties in NFL history started out as a backup quarterback under Dennis “They were who we thought they were” Green, but soon made the move to safety. He wrapped up his college football career under Bill Walsh.
The star athlete was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the second round of the 1992 MLB draft and was set to begin his pitching career; however, Standford’s head coach, Bill Walsh talked Lynch out of playing professional baseball and rejoining the football team for one more season and enter the 1993 NFL Draft.
Funny story. We all heard the Bo Jackson story and how he was drafted by the Buccaneers, wait you haven’t? In 1986 the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Auburn two-sport hero with the first pick overall, but due to some funny business – that I really don’t want to get into – Jackson opted to play his other passion, Baseball. After leaving the NFL and being drafted by the Kanas City Royals in the 4th round of the ’86 MLB draft, Culverhouse was done with drafting two-sport players.
John Lynch almost never puts on a Buccaneer uniform.
Lynch’s draft stock was pretty high in the beginning, but due to beliefs that Lynch would not leave Major League Baseball and was only seeking to drive up his value, his stock began slipping. No one was going to touch Lynch with a 10-foot pole, or were they? Lynch was almost a first-round pick for the Green Bay Packers. The Packers were in talks with Lynch, and it was virtually agreed that he would play for them and leave baseball if drafted, but it never happened. They passed on him.
As the first two rounds went on and more and more teams were passing on Lynch, his former head coach, Bill Walsh, got on the phone and called Sam Wyche. prior to their third-round selection. Walsh told Wyche that Lynch wants to play football and to draft him now. Buccaneers head coach Sam Wyche, who attributes his desire to coach, to Bill Walsh, of course, took the advice, but it wasn’t that simple. Hugh Culverhouse was not interested in drafting any more two-sport players, and Wyche really had to persuade one of the most stubborn men in Buccaneers history into taking a chance on the Standford standout. We all know how that turned out.
Lynch began his NFL career on special teams but eventually earned the starting role as a safety. He started in four games, however, being a starter was short-lived as he was demoted to backup. It wasn’t until two years later in 1995 that Lynch would see another start. he started in six games that season, recording three interceptions. That was enough for Lynch to earn the starting role. A role he never gave up.
He quickly became a household name among Tampa fans as one of the hardest-hitting safeties, and boy could he hit. Players such as Barry Sanders and Marshall Faulk will attest to that. During his 15 seasons in the NFL, 11 with Tampa and four short seasons with the Denver Broncos, Lynch went to 9 Pro Bowls, ranked 5th in franchise history for solo tackles witch 541, sixth in franchise history for interceptions with 23, and seventh in franchise history for pass defends with 42. The 3-time First-Team All-Pro, Super Bowl Champion finished his career in 2007 with 1,059 tackles with 727 of them solo, 26 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles, 9 fumble recoveries, 68 pass defends, and knocking the hell out of some the greatest players in the history of the game.
This is Lynch’s seventh consecutive time being named to the Hall of Fame finalist’s list and with a little luck, this could be his year! I really hope so, but this year’s finalist list is chock full of serious talent.
Here is a complete list of the 15 finalists:
- Safety, Steve Atwater
- Tackle, Tony Boselli
- Wide Receiver, Issac Bruce
- Safety, LeRoy Butler
- Guard, Alan Fancea
- Wide Receiver, Tory Holt
- Guard, Steve Hutchinson
- Runningback, Edgerrin James
- Free Safety, John Lynch
- Linebacker, Sam Mills
- Safety, Troy Polamalu
- Defensive Lineman, Richard Seymour
- Linebacker, Zach Thomas
- Wide Receiver, Reggie Wayne
- Defensive Tackle, Bryant Young
Only eight will be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame in 2020, hopefully, this year John Lynch will have his name enshrined in Canton, Ohio next to fellow Buccaneers*:
- Steve Young
- Tony Dungy
- Randall McDaniel
- Derrick Brooks
- Warren Sapp
- Lee Roy Selmon
- Ron Wolf
- Tim Brown
*While not necessarily inducted as a Buccaneer, they played a vital role in this organization at some point in their careers