First, it was Lee Roy Selmon.
Last year, Warren Sapp.
This year, Derrick Brooks.
These three Buc greats have all been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The only question is this: who’s next?
The choices are obvious. Former head coach Tony Dungy is beloved here in Tampa Bay, despite the fact that he was fired because ownership felt he couldn’t win the big game. He then went on to win one over current head coach Lovie Smith and his Bears squad with the Indianapolis Colts.
Next is John Lynch, whose reputation in Tampa is solidified as a hard worker and even harder hitter. When the Buccaneers decided to let Lynch test free agency, he continued his storied career as a Denver Bronco.
But what if it isn’t so obvious?
Enter Jon Gruden, the coach that put the Buccaneers over the top in 2002 and finally led the team to their first Super Bowl championship. He’s on an extremely short list of coaches that won a Super Bowl in his first year with a team, and at the time, was the youngest NFL coach to win the Lombardi Trophy.
And if none of those guys can get it, then we’ll surely be waiting on Ronde Barber to become eligible. Barber is the founding (and only) member of the 40-20 club (40 interceptions-20 sacks), and is a legend here in Tampa Bay. While I believe he should be a first ballot hall of famer, we won’t find out until the Hall of Fame class of 2017 is announced.
I don’t think it will get that far.
While I have my doubts about John Lynch getting in in the near future, I am extremely confident that Tony Dungy will be inducted into the Hall of Fame fairly soon. He’s a storied NFL coach with a Super Bowl ring, and his reputation as one of the nicest guys in the league will only help his cause with the voters.
Back to Lynch, it’s a tough call.
I, like many in this area, think very highly of John Lynch. He’s one of the last safeties of his kind: a hard hitter that strikes fear into crossing wide receivers. New NFL rules are making players like Lynch extinct, and I believe he should be recognized for his accomplishments.
However, I’m not sure voters will see things my way. Once you get the fear factor out of the way, Lynch didn’t have overwhelming stats. Sure, he did his job consistently well for years and years, but he lacks the records and awards that might help him get in within the next few classes. John Lynch could be waiting awhile.
What do you think? Don’t forget to let us know in the fan poll below, and in the comments section!