John Lynch is sports royalty in Florida, and we aren’t just talking football. Lynch was drafted as a right-handed pitcher by the Florida Marlins in the second round (66th overall) of the 1992 Major League Baseball draft, the first in the franchise’s history. He threw the first pitch in the organization’s history as a member of the Erie Sailors, back when they were a minor league affiliate of the Marlins. As a result, his jersey with the Sailors is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. After keeping up with football thanks to his two head coaches at Stanford, Dennis Green and Bill Walsh (maybe you’ve heard of them), Lynch now has a spot in the Football Hall of Fame.
After being selected in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft, Lynch spent his first few seasons battling for playing time with the likes of “notable” Bucs of yesteryears such as Marty Carter, Barney Bussey, and Todd Scott. Suffice to say, Lynch was able to flash his talent and prove to be better. Sam Wyche was fired after the 1994 season, and when Tony Dungy came in, he immediately saw what Wyche was starting to come around to. That was that Lynch was the perfect safety for what would become him and defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defense.
Lynch came to Tampa the same year as Hardy Nickerson signed during the first-ever year of free agency, and the two would become the cornerstones of what would become a Super Bowl championship defense, even though Nickerson never made it to the finish line, unfortunately. By the time two other cornerstones of the defense and fellow two Hall of Famers, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks were both drafted in the first round of the 1995 NFL Draft, Lynch already had a reputation. They had recognized Lynch as, in the words of Sapp, “that hittin’ white boy that plays safety.”
Hit he could. One of the most feared tacklers in NFL history, Lynch was the elder statesman in a golden age of the safety position during the early-mid 2000s. Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed, and Troy Polamalu amongst others were the young studs and Lynch was the veteran. All of them have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Sean Taylor could have joined them if not for his tragic passing. Lynch and Polamalu had the longest wait, going in this year, but the wait was well worth it.
Lynch was consistently amongst the biggest Hall of Fame snubs year after year, and at long last, he is now amongst the immortals. More Buccaneers should follow, namely other notable snubs from the championship defense like Simeon Rice and Ronde Barber, and then there’s the current team, which surely won’t be short on gold jackets.
Congratulations to John Lynch, a Tampa Bay legend who was a soldier for the real sad Yucks, and the Big Bad Bucs, on finally getting the honor of a lifetime, and the honor that he deserves, being enshrines in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.