Super Bowl 58 is here, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are very obviously not playing in the game. The season ended in the NFC Divisional Round, which was much later than most experts thought things would wrap up.
A team picked to win just a handful of games clinched a third straight division title and punched a ticket to the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year. It was a magical season that not a single Bucs fans should be taking for granted given the pit of football hell the team climbed out of after the last decade.
The last time the Bucs were this consistently good was back in the early 2000s, which is connective tissue with this year's Super Bowl. While Tampa Bay isn't in the Super Bowl this year, fans don't have to look hard to find some rooting interest.
Buccaneers fans should be rooting for John Lynch in Super Bowl 58
John Lynch was part of that first Super Bowl team and made his bones as the hardest hitting safety in the NFL at the backend of a legendary Buccaneers defense. His post-playing days have been almost as successful, taking over the general manager job in San Francisco and building a 49ers team that has shades of his old Tampa Bay teams while correcting one of its biggest flaws.
Kyle Shanahan deserves all of the credit for the Niners insane offensive production, but it's hard to not see how bad Lynch's offenses were in Tampa Bay and not think that he was very intentional about not re-living the same mistakes.
For his effort in building the Niners, Lynch could end up with the second Super Bowl ring of his career. He's already a Hall of Famer and has a ring from that 2002 Bucs team, so winning another one is just icing on the cake.
It's also a reason for Buccaneers fans to be invested in tonight's game.
Lynch was one of the most likable players of that era, joining Ronde Barber in being an incredibly nice person off the field who wouldn't think twice about crunching your bones on it. He's taken that mentality to the 49ers front office, and it's impossible to see him this close to further solidifying his legacy and not be in his corner.
Tampa Bay might not be in the Super Bowl, but an all-time franchise icon is. It's the perfect reason to get some skin in the game and pull for Lynch.