10 years after they helped bring home Tampa Bay’s only Super Bowl in franchise history, two leading members of one of the best defenses in NFL history are very close to making it into the Hall of Fame.
Strong safety John Lynch and defensive tackle Warren Sapp are among 27 semifinalists that could be named to the Class of 2013 in Canton. Interestingly enough, the Hall usually releases a list of 25 semifinalists but this year there was a three way tie for the final spot and the Hall decided to include two extra names.
It’s not known if Lynch or Sapp were one or both of those guys, but one thin is certain, two titans among Buccaneers lore are potentially headed to the Hall of Fame.
Of the two, the only questions seems to be will they be first ballot Hall of Famers or will it take a few years. Either way it’s really hard to not see both Lynch and Sapp get busts in Canton, and that’s not because of all the childhood memories.
Lynch might be the harder case to make, but that’s only because out of the two Sapp was by far the most known just because of the way he carried himself. Lynch finished his career with 9 Pro Bowls and 4 All-Pro appearances, as well as winning the Alumni Defensive Back award.
And it all almost wasn’t to be. Before the Buccaneers drafted him in 1993, Lynch was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 1992 MLB Draft. Thankfully for Bucs fans, Lynch made the right choice.
So when it comes to being first ballot, Lynch is a hard case to make. But his impact on the game and as a key piece of a slew of stout defensive years by the Buccaneers won’t be overlooked for too long.
Then there’s Warren Sapp, who at one time could have been argued as a first ballot Hall of Famer. During his career with the Bucs, Sapp became the face of the franchise, and became a guy everyone loved to hate and Bucs fans loved to call their own. He was the personality of the team and Bucs fans everywhere were doing that fumble recovery dance he did.
And who can forget when he literally skipped through opposing teams pre-game warmups, like the Steelers pre-game warmups back in 2002 that started a heated argument with Jerome Bettis.
In terms of accomplishments, Sapp was named to two All-Decade teams, went to 7 Pro Bowls, 6 All-Pro teams (4 times first team, two times second team) and he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 1999.
Oh yeah, and for both of them there’s that old Super Bowl they won ten years ago this year.
Neither are locks to make the Hall on the first ballot, but don’t worry about waiting too long. When John Lynch and Warren Sapp make the Hall of Fame, they’ll be the second and third true Buccaneers to get busts in Canton along with Lee Roy Selmon.
But again, it’s not a matter how if with Lynch and Sapp, it’s a matter of when. The semifinalist list is trimmed to 15 players in January.