John Lynch was once again left at the Hall of Fame altar, excluding the Buccaneers legend’s Hall worthy career.
No, he doesn’t have jump of the page stats. No, he wasn’t part of a dynasty that brought home multiple Super Bowl rings. No, he was never the flashiest or most popular player in the league. However, John Lynch‘s run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos is Hall of Fame worthy – despite the voter’s bias against safeties.
Ira Kauffman – formerly of the Tampa Tribune and currently of JoeBucsFan.com – was the man responsible for pleading Lynch’s case to the voters. Sal Paolantonio of ESPN has dubbed Ira “The Closer”, but unfortunately he couldn’t close the deal Saturday.
Kauffman pointed out that of the 2014 Hall of Fame finalists – Derrick Brooks, Jerome Bettis, Morten Andersen, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy, Charles Haley, Marvin Harrison, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Michael Strahan, Aeneas Williams, Kevin Greene, Tim Brown, and John Lynch – only Lynch and Anderson weren’t in the Hall already. Now, with the class of 2017, Lynch is the lone man left standing.
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In a conversation with Tony Dungy, Ira was told that Lynch had the most responsibility in that perennial powerhouse defense than any other player. It was Lynch that made that defense run so effectively.
When Hardy Nickerson retired, it was Lynch – not Derrick Brooks, not Warren Sapp – that was selected by the defensive players to be the team captain. He has played for more top six defenses than anyone else and that was on two different teams.
So why does he keep getting denied?
For starters, the voters have something against the safety position, which is asinine. There’s kickers and punters getting voted in – not that they don’t deserve it – but the safety position seems like the outcast outside of special teams. If you aren’t Ronnie Lott, the voters just don’t care.
Next, the stats. He doesn’t have the eye-popping interception numbers. He doesn’t have the most sacks of any safety. That wasn’t what Lynch did. His play, his leadership went so far beyond stats that casual fans or people that didn’t watch him play week in and week out aren’t able to recognize his greatness. They watch highlight reels of guys like Sean Taylor and Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed and decide that those safeties were better because of stats.
Lynch was so much more than box scores.
He was the lifeblood, the leader, the rock that solidified one of the greatest defenses in history. No, they weren’t the ’85 Bears, the ’02 Ravens. They were more. They were the definition of consistency. A sustained, proven, dominant unit that would’ve brought multiple rings to Tampa had the front office or coach Dungy given any attention whatsoever to the offensive side of the ball.
Instead, they carried the likes of Trent Dilfer and Shaun King. They were contenders with sub-par quarterbacks, no name receivers, and offensive ineptitude that put all the pressure on them. Without Lynch, that defense fails.
There is no excuse for Lynch being denied again. And with the exclusion of Brian Dawkins, the safety position continues to be log-jammed like a Los Angeles highway during rush hour. Come next year, Lynch has no chance at all. First time eligible players include Ray Lewis, Brian Urlacher, Jeff Saturday, Randy Moss, Steve Hutchinson, and Bucs legend Ronde Barber. Add to that Terrell Owens, who was denied yet again, and 2018 is stacked beyond belief.
The growing feeling is Lynch might be waiting for years – and potentially won’t get there at all. I don’t know what else Ira Kauffman can do or say in that room to finally get these non-believers to open their eyes but if he didn’t get in this year, they may never let him be immortalized in Canton.