John Lynch And Saturday’s Numbers Game

January 31st, 2018


I’m a man on a mission as I prepare to travel to Minneapolis.

Hopefully, the Super Bowl will be as competitive as the meeting of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors figures to be Saturday morning, when 48 media members convene to choose the Class of 2018.

John Lynch is back in the room for a fifth consecutive year, which means he continues to generate a lot of support. Now it’s time to kick in the door to Canton and let Lynch join a couple of former teammates who have already been fitted for a gold jacket.

A maximum of five modern-era finalists can be elected in any given year, meaning at least 10 of the 15 candidates who will be discussed walk away disappointed.

Lynch knows the feeling, but he has survived the initial cut from 15 to 10 in each of the past two years. That’s a very good indication that his time is near.

Standing in Lynch’s way are 14 other candidates and let’s be honest here — when you advance to this stage you were an exceptional player.

Brian Dawkins is back in the room to provide fierce competition at safety, a position that has been neglected by Hall voters for far too long.

Lynch’s Competition

There are also two cornerbacks among the finalists, Ty Law and Everson Walls. Ray Lewis and Randy Moss are the headliners, but Terrell Owens has been waiting and Brian Urlacher has garnered some support in his first year of eligibility.

There’s no doubt that Lynch loses the statistical battle against Dawkins, who was given free reign as a ball hawking safety for the Eagles. But these voters need to realize that Lynch played a crucial role on the best defense of its time, a Cover 2 scheme that was widely imitated but has yet to be equaled in the past two decades.

“I cannot think of a guy that played that system better than John Lynch,” says Ronnie Lott, who set the standard for the safety position during a Hall of Fame career. “You don’t get the opportunity to make a lot of interceptions in that scheme, but John Lynch was essential to its success.”

When Tony Dungy arrived in Indianapolis in 2002, he told GM Bill Polian the Colts needed a safety like Lynch. Two years later, Polian drafted Bob Sanders.

“The position John played in the Tampa 2 is unique,” says Polian, “and I can speak to it because I was with Tony for seven years and we picked players for that defense. Without a dominant safety, that defense does not work. You have to be big, explosive, physical and smart. When there’s eight in the box, he’s the guy. You don’t get picks in the Tampa 2 … you blow up receivers.”

The great Barry Sanders says Lynch occupied a spot in his mind. That was a different era, when intimidation was welcome and big hits generated turnovers and changed momentum.

Numbers Problem

When the Bucs were in a close game during their glory days, the Glazers would turn to each other and say, “We need a John Lynch moment.”

Although Lynch’s 26 career interceptions don’t represent a big number, 14 of them came in the fourth quarter. The Tampa 2 should have been called the Tampa 3 because Lynch had more responsibility in the Buc defense than Derrick Brooks or Warren Sapp.

“Don’t list safeties by how many picks they have,” says Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young. “I know it’s hard to pick Hall of Fame safeties, but that misses the point and you don’t understand the position if you judge safeties that way. In both Tampa and Denver, John Lynch was the quarterback of those defenses. Think about it this way — if you’re a safety and you’re always around great defenses, by definition you’re a great safety.”

Brian Billick, who coached against both Lynch and Dawkins, says No. 47 should be the next safety in the Hall.

“I love Dawkins as well and he has numbers, but to me one criteria for the Hall is whether a guy re-defined the game,” Billick says. “Like Cris Carter did as a slot receiver. John Lynch was the first drop-in-the-box safety. The man changed the game.”

Ira Kaufman is the most revered sports personality and writer in town. He has hung his hat at world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also hear Ira on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio Thursday at 6 p.m., and see him Mondays and Fridays at 10:30 p.m. on Spectrum Sports 360.

25 Responses to “John Lynch And Saturday’s Numbers Game”

  1. 813bucboi Says:

    lynch deserves it…..hopefully he’ll get in…..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!!!…..GO BUCS!!!!

  2. 813bucboi Says:


    is lynch an underachiever under father dungy like brooks?….lol….

    NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  3. Sunny Says:

    He was a hard hitter and the league doesn’t like that anymore , don’t want to glorify him

  4. Mike Johnson Says:

    If Lynch does not get in this time/ Don’t matter. He will make it in sooner or later. He’s got that comin. Bucs made a mistake when they did not keep up their Defensive excellence. It was our..calling Card. We decided to build around an offense instead of what got us to the promised land. I dare say had we just stuck with a great D, we would be further along today. We can score but cannot stop anybody. Good luck with that..outscoring your opponent philosophy. Its gonna be the death (firing) of Koetter and his sidekick Smitty.

  5. Baz Says:

    Four HOF’ers and a SB-winning coach with outstanding insight… seriously, just roll those quotes out and call it a day, Ira. How is Lynch NOT yet in the HOF??

  6. darin Says:

    Bring it Ira. I hope Lynch gets in, he deserves it. Anyone who disagrees simply doesnt know football or didnt watch him play all his career. Having said that there are only 5 spots and looking at that list there are more than 5 deserving. Whew what a football player. Good luck Lynch.

  7. Pickgrin Says:

    Good luck Ira.

    Lynch has waited his turn, has momentum, it’s time – all of that.

    Its gonna be tough this year. 2 sure fire 1st ballot guys and another that will get a good bit of 1st ballot consideration – all becoming eligible. That only leaves 3 or perhaps 2 spots to fill.

    Lynch should have gotten in last year. Putting Jason Taylor through in his 1st year of eligibility was quite the reach – and Terrell Davis??? WTF?? Dude had 4 good years (including 2 amazing ones) and then he was done. Barely ran for 1000 yards combined over his next 3 years and then retired after a 7 year career. How in the HELL does a couple of good and a couple of great years in the NFL merit HOF induction??? SMH

  8. BFFL Says:

    I would say urlacher definitely HOFer bc he made Lovies defense look good

  9. LakeLand Says:

    Terrell Owens should get in before any of them including John Lynch.

  10. Rod Munch Says:

    Great article Ira but I still think there is one critical selling point to getting Lynch into the HOF…

    In his early years in Tampa, Lynch looked like a generic safety who was too slow to play the position, who had heart but may not make it to a second contract. Lynch wasn’t particularly gifted when it came to physical abilities, he wasn’t even a full-time starter until his 5th year in the league (he started 16 games in ’97, first time he started all games he played in). But Lynch had incredible heart AND he put all of that into getting better, in working harder than anyone to improve and he took himself from starting a total of 10 games in his first 3 years, to become a HOFer. How many players have done that?

    To me the NFL should jump at the chance of telling the story of Lynch, a guy who shows even if you’re not the most talented guy you can still make it to the very very top through pure hard work.

  11. got to be effing kidding me... Says:

    Ira, get the job done…

  12. Mr. Ed Says:

    GO IRA GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. jmarkbuc Says:


    TD has the one thing that guarantees you a spot in the HOF…a job at NFLN

  14. tmaxcon Says:


    yes the entire team and organization under dungy underachieved. 2 playoff wins in six years is failure sir…. bucs were pretenders under dungy not contenders with a real shot…. i know facts really upset the sheep here but those low standard dungy glory years were actually wasted.

    Steve Atwater belongs in Hall of Fame way before lynch.

  15. DoNUTS Says:

    Steve Atwater was a hard hitter and a good player on a great team. John Lynch may not have started but he played in a lot of games (24) in the first 3 years.

    Tmax went to the Richard Williamson school of football and graduated with honors. Enough said.

  16. 813bucboi Says:


    your going to look stupid when dungy…brooks…sapp….lynch and barber are all in the HOF with SB rings…..

    they must have had your girl on the pirate ship topless with that much hate toward the HOF squad……..

    #NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  17. BringBucsBack Says:

    Let Barry Sanders give John’s induction speech!

  18. tmaxcon Says:


    the hall of fame lost all credibility and respect when a coach with a career losing playoff record was enshrined based on popularity and the color of his skin versus his actual accomplishments.

    no coach with a career losing playoff record should every even be considered for hall of fame. hall used to be for the best of the best not one dimensional failed head coaches like dungy the clown who failed in the playoffs. manning could have played a few more years if he did not have to carry dungy the clown on his back so long.

  19. 813bucboi Says:

    dungy got manning over the hump…..the broncos defense helped manning get a second ring….manning post season record is 14-13 and he’s considered by some as the GOAT….that’s some record….wow….manning has the worse lost in SB history 43-8….manning hadn’t won a playoff game until dungy got there…..

    fact is you’ll never be able to accomplish what dungy…brooks…lynch…sapp and barber did…..they are all SB CHAMPS…..your just a JBF CHUMP!!!!

    NOEXCUSESIN2018!!!!!!….GO BUCS!!!!

  20. Rod Munch Says:

    tmax – Can you do me a favor and get the super flu that is going around and hopefully kick the bucket? Maybe you can have a freak lawn mower accident where you stick your face into the blades. Either option would be great.

    God bless!

  21. Rod Munch Says:

    DoNUTS – Lynch not starting early isn’t a diss, it’s actually a great story. He did play a lot, he just wasn’t a starter – and didn’t start full time until the second year Dungy was here. To me that’s an amazing story – to go from that, to a HOFer. I mean it would be like Keith Tandy suddenly last year stepping up becoming a pro-bowl player, then doing so for the next decade. It says Lynch didn’t have everything from day 1, nothing was handed to him, he didn’t dominate early, he didn’t have all the tools, he had to earn everything – and he did. People love underdog stories, and Lynch is almost an underdog story.

  22. TampaTown Says:

    @Rod Munch: I think you speak for every poster on this site with your advice to tmax. Good luck to Ira on Saturday. Deliver your own incredible SOTU speech and bring home the Gold Jacket for John Lynch and the Tampa 2! BTW.. if Ronde is a system corner (a stupid and lazy argument), isn’t Urlacher? He played in the same system. Just admit you didn’t watch any Buc games in their prime. Because that’s what’s really at play here. Call ’em out Ira!

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    TampaTown – I don’t see why Ronde being a system corner is a bad thing, he was the best player at his position in the best defense of it’s time playing the most important scheme of it’s time. It’s like saying Steve Young was just a product of a west coast offense as in the west coast offense they ran a ton of roll out and short passes that inflated QB statistics. Does that system mean Young shouldn’t have gotten in? We saw Young when he wasn’t in the west coast system in Tampa and he was awful, so was it the scheme that suddenly made him better? No, of course not, he was a great all-time player, just like Barber is. Saying system corner, even if it’s meant as an insult, shouldn’t detract anyone except the dumbest of dummies.

  24. FortMyersDave Says:

    Get it done Ira. Lynch deserves a golden jacket. Love to see him in Canton this August! After #47 is in, you need to start getting things in motion to make sure #20 Ronde gets into the final round of voting and discussion next year and make it 4 of the 1999/2002 members of the Buc D in the Hall!

  25. TampaTown Says:

    @Rod: That’s the point I was making. You’re stupid if you think Ronde was only a “system” corner. Not only should be be a finalist, he should be a first ballot HOF IMO. The sad truth is if he played in NY or Dallas he would be. The talking heads never, and still don’t, watch Bucs games. They hear someone else say “system corner” then they repeat it rather than do their homework. Like I said, lazy and stupid. Also why #47 is still waiting.