“It Was Brief And It Was Heartbreaking”

February 2nd, 2020

It’s an emotional column today from The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports, presented by Ira’s good friend Sean Sullivan, Bill Currie Ford general manager, who will personally help you get the best value on your next vehicle purchase.


Leaving the Hall of Fame meeting room Saturday afternoon, I thought John Lynch had earned himself a gold jacket.

When Hall of Fame president David Baker read the list of modern-era candidates who had survived the first cut from 15 to 10, Lynch was still alive. That was a very positive sign after he was eliminated in the first reduction in each of the past two years.

In a departure from custom, the 48 selectors were not told the players in the Class of 2020 when we departed the meeting. The final cut from 10 to 5 was kept a secret from the voters, but I boarded a shuttle bus to the NFL Honors show feeling positive that Lynch was going to take the stage as a new member of Canton’s exclusive club.

Iconic Bucs safety John Lynch

After every meeting, Baker immediately calls each of the 10 nominees who didn’t make the Hall that particular year. For the five who have earned a Hall of Fame bust, he knocks on their hotel room door and welcomes them personally to Canton.

The calls always come before the knocks.

Halfway through the shuttle bus ride, my cell phone rang. It was Lynch.

I froze because not much time had elapsed from the end of the meeting to the phone call. The later I heard from Lynch, the better, I figured.

Lynch told me he had just gotten off the phone with Baker. He didn’t need to say anymore. I wished Lynch luck in the Super Bowl and hung up before slumping in my seat.

When we arrived at the NFL Honors auditorium, I walked off the bus, turned around and looked for a taxi to the airport for my 10 p.m. flight back to Tampa. There was no longer any reason to attend the show, unless I wanted to see Troy Polamalu, Steve Atwater, Edgerrin James, Steve Hutchinson and Isaac Bruce introduced as the new Hall of Fame class.

I passed.

Close Call, Bad Call

A day later, it’s still hard to believe Lynch was turned away in his seventh consecutive year as a finalist. In the end, Atwater took his spot.

It’s been a rough 24 hours for Ira Kaufman, Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter.

Lynch has better individual statistics and more Pro Bowl berths than Atwater. Tampa Bay’s defense was far superior to Denver’s units of the 1990s and Lynch made the Ring of Honor for two different franchises, yet Atwater received more votes.

Lynch came close … damned close.

The Hall doesn’t reveal the final totals, but I’ve learned that the margin between Lynch and the player who finished No. 5 was about as narrow as it could be.

Lynch’s savvy as GM of the 49ers came up only briefly in the debate after my presentation, and that’s appropriate. Lynch is a candidate as a player, not a contributor, so his 15-year career remains the focus.

Atwater and Lynch were similar players — intimidating safeties who earned 17 Pro Bowls between them. Atwater made the All-Decade team of the 1990s as the Broncos won two Super Bowls.

But let’s not kid ourselves.

Those Broncos had John Elway and other Hall of Fame players on offense like Terrell Davis and Shannon Sharpe.

The 1997 Broncos boasted the NFL’s No. 1 scoring attack. The 1998 championship team ranked No. 2 in scoring.

Not so in Tampa, where the Big 3 of Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp and Lynch did almost all of the heavy lifting.

Hope & Heartbreak

Next year, the Hall of Fame meeting will be in Tampa on the day before the Super Bowl. If Lynch enters Canton that afternoon, it would be a wonderful story. Perhaps some selectors had that scenario in the back of their minds on Saturday.

I respect the other 47 voters, but the Bucs aren’t getting enough respect as a franchise. Rondé Barber and Simeon Rice can’t even get into the room as finalists. Lynch has been turned away at Canton’s doorstep for seven years running.

Things could change next year, but the first-year class is imposing, with Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Calvin Johnson and Jared Allen all eligible for the first time.

I’m already thinking about the 2021 NFL Honors show, hoping at least one Buccaneer hops up on that stage as a newly crowned Hall of Famer. Baker had to break the bad news to 10 former players on Saturday — and I can guarantee the Lynch phone call was the toughest of all.

It was brief and it was heartbreaking … on both ends of the line.

Ira with his good friend and Bill Currie Ford general manager Sean Sullivan. Ask for Sean at Bill Currie Ford. He will help you personally and give you a special JoeBucsFan discount.

Ira Kaufman launched his professional NFL beat coverage in 1979, back when Earl Campbell was the toast of the league and Lee Roy Selmon was defensive player of the year. After a lifetime at The Tampa Tribune, “The Sage of Tampa Bay Sports” joined JoeBucsFan.com in July of 2016. His twice-weekly podcast and three columns per week appear here year-round and are presented by Bill Currie Ford. Tampa Bay’s only Hall of Fame voter is a regular on SiriusXM Mad Dog Radio and a part of the FOX-13 Tailgate Sunday show, in addition to his other appearances. 

72 Responses to ““It Was Brief And It Was Heartbreaking””

  1. Hamsadwitchtime Says:

    Maybes it’s time for someone to make the case besides Ira

  2. Pit of Misery Says:

    He will get in next year. Ira, why would the this franchise get any respect? But for a brief period of time, we were relevant. You should be commended for the job you do under such a black cloud representing this team.

  3. TampaTown Says:

    You’re a jacka$$. And if you followed this site you would know that Ira himself already suggested that to John Lynch and Lynch said no. Ira is his ride or die. So show alittle respect.

  4. stpetebucsfan Says:

    What Tampa Town just said!

  5. KnoxvilleBuc Says:

    Trying not to be biased. But Lynch deserved to be in the last few years. He isn’t a first ballot HOF talent. It’s a shame what the HOF has become. Lynch was an anchor for the majority of a decade on arguably a top 5 defense of all time. Ring of honors , pro bowls, tackles, INTs, the game changing hits, his football IQ, and overall team defensive statistics couldn’t get him in, the rules in today’s game we’re changed because of players like him. Wish the best to all the inductees but Atwater over Lynch? No way. There is many inductees the last few years you kind of shake your head at. The Bucs being relevant will help, Owners pushing for former players in political circles, etc.. Good luck to Lynch tonight and to Ronde and Rice next year. Three Bucs who all deserve to be in one day.

  6. PSL Bob Says:

    I like the angle that perhaps some of the voters were thinking how cool it would be if he were selected next year with Tampa hosting the Super Bowl. Even if that’s not the case, it will be in there minds next year for sure, and that should give him the edge, even over those first-timers. Manning will certainly get in, but for the others I give the edge to Lynch. Good luck to both John and Ira. I’m sure Ira gave the best pitch anyone could make for John’s induction.

  7. Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:

    I chuckle at all the people trying to somehow pin it on Ira and his presentation skills. He got Sapp & Brooks in 1st ballot…Lynch is a tougher sales job. Lynch is a fringe/bubble hall of famer…plain and simple. Ira is well liked and respected. Peter King rallied some votes for Atwater days before the vote…likely taking some votes away from Lynch.

  8. Jimmy Says:

    What’s a “taxi?”

  9. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Thanks for your hard work, Sage. It will pay off someday.

  10. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Sage strikes out again. Raise your hand if your shocked

  11. Miller5252 Says:

    Yesterday I was on my “soap box” talking about how the Bucs don’t get any respect when it comes to their former and current players. Until this team puts together a group that holds this chip and starts to dominate it won’t change. They have to get that chip the same way Sapp talks about watching ESPN and how no one took them serious, did he and Brooks change a franchise and took that respect. This ownership should be doing interviews and going anywhere to talk about the former and current players to get them accolades they deserve. Do you really think Brady would come to a place where no one is talked about and you can’t build or grow your brand and money???

    Keep chipping away Ira, you’ll get him in soon! It would just go a lot faster if you had a GM and owners that felt the same way as the fans.

  12. Wesley Says:

    Get’em next year Ira!

  13. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Been telling fans for years it’s gonna be hard to get more players in from a d with one Super Bowl

  14. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Good try Uncle Ira ..don’t give up!

    Next season will be worth the wait!

  15. Big Stinky's Crack Pipe Says:

    Jonathan Limpchimpi Says:
    “Peter King rallied some votes for Atwater days before the vote…likely taking some votes away from Lynch.”

    Doesn’t surprise me. There is a secretive association of people in this world who work against the best interests of normal everyday people, while exchanging furtive secret handshakes and flashing identifying hand signs. I am starting to think membership in this group may have more to do with final selection for any exclusive body, than actual personal accomplishments and qualifications.

    You can be pretty sure that anybody who openly professes his Christianity in the way that John Lynch does is not a member of this association.

    It must be frustrating, Ira. Thank you for doing this business for us. It’ll happen next year, I think.

  16. stpetebucsfan Says:


    I hadn’t thought of that but yeah it would be way cool if John got in next year in Tampa. And since the Bucs will be the NFC representative John will have time to enjoy the weekend.

  17. BucAllNight Says:

    2020 Is The Year

    Jameis League MVP
    Lynch win the Hall
    Tampa 1st Team to Play in and HOST a Super Bowl

    Why not us???
    Go Bucs!!!

  18. ModHairKen Says:

    So it will be next year. In Tampa. If not, then it’s time to start asking some serious questions.

    But, let’s not forget. During that run, Tampa made one NFC championship and one Super Bowl. A small market team with the worst record of any professional sports team ever.

    Barber also deserves it. Rice, maybe. He disappeared in a lot of games. That is a fact.

  19. NPRSageBoy. Says:

    As long as Kwon doesn’t screw up, Lynch will get a SB title tonight.

  20. MadMax Says:

    GO KC!!! Get that SB Coach Reid!!! Finally! You deserve it!

  21. Nemo14 Says:

    I saw the portion of the presentation that was recorded and available to the public, don’t get me wrong, I love Ira and I don’t think there’s anyone better for the job but is there no option to add a bit of energy to the room? I’m not sure if it was just because of the cameras or if this is the standard but speaking behind all of the voters without being able to present anything on a screen seems very ineffective. I have to give business presentations all the time and I couldn’t imagine having to do it without being in front of the audience and being able to get animated about what I’m presenting.

  22. Buczilla Says:

    Chin up Ira, you did your best and as long as those ‘hollier than thou” fools up north are colluding against our guys, it’s gonna be tough. Lynch and Barber will both get in someday. The whole process is a rigged sham.

  23. Old School Athlete Says:

    Buc all night, I love your optimism. I could enjoy this game a lot more if I thought there was a chance it could happen.
    Why not us? Well, picks, pick 6’s, missed kicks, bonehead penalties, blown coverages pretty well explain it

  24. Ndog Says:

    How many missed tackles can Kwon have on one drive? 3 and counting on this drive!

  25. tmaxcon Says:

    Ira just be happy you have already done enough to waterdown an already meaningless hall of fame with Dungy the clown

    How many players does a one year wonder bunch of post season challenged losers deserve

  26. tmaxcon Says:

    BucAllNight Says:
    February 2nd, 2020 at 6:01 pm
    2020 Is The Year

    Jameis League MVP
    Lynch win the Hall
    Tampa 1st Team to Play in and HOST a Super Bowl

    Why not us???


  27. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Jimmy G audibled more in one drive than Jameis did all year

    So much for Jameis’s high football IQ

  28. Ndog Says:

    Wow these QBs sure look different when the other teams knows what’s coming cause they are in predictable situations. I wonder what QB has to deal with that every week? I wonder who could that be…?

  29. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    That was Mahomes first INT of the post season…

    Jameis wouldn’t know how to protect the ball enough to get into the playoffs

    Sit down nut hugger

  30. Ndog Says:

    You completely missed the point Loyal which is not surprising at all.

  31. Ndog Says:

    Chiefs can’t run the ball and there’s pressure and Mahomes has thrown 2 picks who would have thunk it?

    Maybe anybody with a brain.

  32. Jean Lafitte Says:


    Just stop comparing Winston to Mahomes

    The only thing they even have remotely in common is that they play the same position ..well sorta

  33. Ndog Says:

    Show me where in this thread I compared anyone?

  34. Adrnagy Says:

    We can win SB with jameis after watching jimmy g and mahomes.

  35. WyomingDude Says:

    Move. On.

    More. Content.

    Lynch ain’t Lott or Atwater, and I dug Lunch.

    Last 48 hours…been. Well….

    Move on. Some new reporting. Revelational, rather.

  36. Ndog Says:

    Mahomes two picks and two fumbles in the Superbowl and he’s going to win. Hmmmm…..

  37. Jean Lafitte Says:


    yeah, kc has no run game …tsk …tsk

    Hit the showers kid

  38. Ndog Says:

    TD run to seal it Kwon gets caught inside and let’s him out the gate. Same old Kwon great effort but over running plays, missing tackles, and getting caught inside. We seriously upgraded with Devin White.

  39. Buc believer Says:

    Ha Ha San Fran!!! Not John Lynch’s weekend! Awww too badddd!!!

  40. Ndog Says:

    Hey Jean when they were getting shut down what happened to the QB? Two picks two fumbles. Like always you are showing your cluesness.

  41. Jean Lafitte Says:

    game set match …who cares ..it’s not US

  42. DBS Says:

    Give it up Ndog. The real Mr Entertainment and a franchise QB has won the Super Bowl.

  43. tmaxcon Says:

    Lynch was screwed by refs not hof…. he understands he’s not a hall of famer but refs made sure thier poster boy and any reid won today

  44. Ndog Says:

    What’s funny is if Jameis played like Mahomes did tonight he would be getting ripped like nobody ever has before. But you see he plays on a team a total team not a one man team.

  45. Bird Says:

    N Dog

    Way to selectively pick stats again.

    The two fumbles werent lost. They are not a turnover dumb dumb
    So he threw 2 picks

    Guess how many games he threw 2 picks this entire year . Answer : zero
    Actually he had 5 to 1 td to int ratio

    Plus he can win the game in the end and not throw a pick six
    You look terrible right now.

  46. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I can’t even imagine how many TO’s Jameis would have in the biggest setting like the super bowl?

    I just have No faith the guy hasn’t already plateaued.

    What we’ve seen is what we should always accept. ..he doesn’t have that clutch

    not like Mahomes ..after 4 TO’s and he’s as composed as Washington on the Delaware.

    He’s clutch.

  47. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Man. That Chiefs offense is so much like ours.

  48. Ndog Says:

    So clutch that he threw two picks in the second half of the Superbowl with his team trailing. But his DEFENSE gave the offense chance after chance after chance. Some players don’t get that many chances now do they?

  49. Ndog Says:

    Mahomes throws two picks and he is the Superbowl MVP. Jameis does that and everyone wants him gone. ITS CALLED A TEAM FOLKS!

  50. Anonymous Says:

    Weird mahomes was shut down for a lot of this game threw 2 picks n what y’all would call garbage stats n yet won the Superbowl oh yeah and galopolo threw two picks also 🤷

  51. Jean Lafitte Says:

    Jameis would spot the 49ers 14 points …oh wait?

  52. Anonymous Says:

    Y’all r idiots Winston had games better than both QBs combined with less ints n fumbles n y’all bash him n turn around n praise them both they had defense n running games smmfh

  53. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I don’t know that Mahomes deserves to be MVP. Not only did he throw two picks, but his passes were way off all night. Surely there was someone else on the Chiefs who deserved it more.

  54. MirrorMirrowOnTheWall Says:

    You have to look in the mirror Ira and say, “I suck.”

  55. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I agree Bonzai

  56. DBS Says:

    Jameis would have thrown even more picks trying to bring them back.If you think he would have pulled off that throw from his 30 to hill when it was needed? That would have been picked and everybody knows it.

  57. Jean Lafitte Says:

    49ers offense bogged down and Mahomes staged a comeback. That’s all I think was needed for him to win the MVP. who knows?

  58. Jean Lafitte Says:

    I think what made the difference in the super bowl was that KC defensive line batted down a lot of JimmyG’s passes on key downs.

  59. Loyaltotheend Section 312 Says:

    Jameis would’ve turned it over 4 or 5 times in a game like this

    How many times did Mahomes throw it away? Jameis is allergic to throwing it away and playing smart

    Some know the game some only know having a mouth full of Jameis

  60. tmaxcon Says:

    Mahomless had picks in superbowl his sb win has an asterisk and is not legit.. remember picks are offset wins according to delusional defense first dungy nuthuggers aka low standard 1 dimensional bucfan

  61. BigMacAttack Says:

    Now those clowns have another reason to snub John Lynch. I think new inductees to the HOF should be voted in and decided by the living members in the HOF or those that want to participate in it. Partial sportswriters that haven’t played in the NFL should not be deciding. The Pro Bowl is another thing that doesn’t make sense. It just seems stupid to me.

  62. Miller5252 Says:

    That’s gotta be Lynch’s worst weekend of his life. Snubbed by the hall and go into the 4th quarter with a 10 point lead with the best D of the year only to lose the game…. that’s a rough one!

  63. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    BigMacAttack Says
    “I think new inductees to the HOF should be voted in and decided by the living members in the HOF… “

    I really like this idea.

  64. tmaxcon Says:

    You people are hilarious how many mediocre players from a team that won multiple playoff games in only ONE season belong in hof…. they were 1 year wonder fluke champions based on coach knowing all the plays…. the washed up has beens were pretenders never contenders.. only one year did they win more than 1 post season game… 5 career post season wins is laughable not legendary or hof worthy

  65. tmaxcon Says:

    Popularity only equals greatness is small market towns that are used to losing

  66. Timbo Slice Says:

    “It was brief and it was heartbreaking”

    Story of my sex life

  67. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Funny NPUPPY, mahomes “one bad game” tonight is still better than 7 of winstons games this season. Chew on that for a minute and come back to me on how you can even put the two in the same sentence

  68. MadMax Says:


  69. SteveK Says:

    Absolutely zero proof/faith that Jameis will stop turning it over and play consistently well enough to make it tot he playoffs let alone. A championship.

  70. Dlavid Says:

    Ira is a true jewel to the Tampa sporting community ! Watching his presentation though cast serious doubt on his responsibility to deliver for Lynch . I think Ira needs to lose the paper and go off the cuff , his spontaneous nature and candor are his strength !

  71. Go Bucs 72 Says:

    This article is about John Lynch and somehow the same idiots are throwing shade a Jameis. The stupidity of these clowns is astounding.

  72. Sport Says:

    Tough loss Ira. If anyone knows how to get it done it’s you. Some additional Team/alumni support and next year should garner that help being in Tampa.

    Be careful with statements like the Big 3. You still have to argue for Ronde as well. Hah!

    In BA I Trust!