Buccaneers Great Named to Hall of Fame Before Super Bowl

John Lynch

Getty John Lynch celebrates winning Super Bowl XXXVII with the Buccaneers in 2003.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers great John Lynch became a Pro Football Hall of Fame member for the 2021 class on Saturday night before his former team takes on the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

Lynch, now the San Francisco 49ers General Manager, had been eligible for eight years to enter the hall per Buccaneers.com’s Scott Smith.

Lynch then shared a message on his acceptance of the honor, saying he is “humbled and honored” at becoming a Hall-of-Famer.

Super Bowl Champion

Lynch fittingly helped the Bucs win their first Super Bowl 18 years ago, beating the Chiefs’ rival then-Oakland Raiders 48-21. He played defensive back for the champs and posted 64 tackles and three interceptions for the season.

Three Bucs from that team have now made the Hall of Fame — Warren Sapp and Derrick Brook being the other two. The Bucs have nine in the Hall of Fame overall, including longtime Buc LeRoy Selmon and former head coach Tony Dungy. Other Hall-of-Famers who passed through the Bucs organization include Steve Young, Tim Brown, Randall McDaniel, and Ron Wolf.

Lynch, a former third-round pick, amassed 1,059 tackles, 13 sacks, and 26 interceptions. The Bucs selected him from Stanford in 1989, where he started off as a backup quarterback in 1989 but became a safety to get playing time. He earned the respect of other Hall-of-Famers, such as Detroit Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders, for his stellar play. They once faced each other twice a year when Tampa and Detroit played in the NFC Central Division.

“John was as good as any safety I ever played against,” Sanders said per Smith. “He reminded me a lot of guys like Ronnie Lott and Steve Atwater. He was a terrific player, a great defender, a fierce defender. He could knock the snot out of you. John Lynch didn’t just play the position — he occupied a spot in your mind and you had to be aware at all times where he was on the field.”

Coach Impact

Lynch credited late Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh,  for much of his football success. Walsh coached Lynch at Stanford in 1992. Lynch chose to stick with football at the next level instead of baseball, which he also played at Stanford, because of a conversation they had in 1992 per NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco. Walsh compared video of Lynch at Stanford and 49ers safety Ronnie Lott to make his point.

Lynch recalled Walsh telling him, according to Maiocco, “I understand the great opportunity you have in baseball, but I believe you can be an All-Pro safety in the NFL.”

The former Bucs safety embraced it and made the second-most Pro Bowls among safeties of all time at nine per Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams.

Dungy, who coached Lynch with the Bucs, described Lynch as an “‘A’ class man and a great football player” plus “everything you would expect in a Hall-of-Famer on and off the field.”

After spending 11 seasons in Tampa, Lynch’s career took him from Tampa to Denver for four seasons before ending in New England in 2008, where he played with current Bucs quarterback Tom Brady.

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