Presenting John Lynch

August 4th, 2021

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He didn’t have a vote, but David Baker admittedly had a preference when Canton’s newest class was selected.

The president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame dreaded the idea of making another phone call to John Lynch. For seven consecutive years, it was my privilege to make the case for Lynch and for seven consecutive years, Tampa Bay’s intimidating safety came up short.

There were no guarantees Lynch would be part of the Hall’s 2021 class of modern-day players, so the suspense was killing Baker when he learned the results following a Zoom meeting in January involving 48 selectors.

Friday is gold jacket day for Bucs icon John Lynch.

“John Lynch is such a gentleman with such enormous class,” Baker told me this week. “And certainly with Super Bowl 55 being in Tampa, this would be a great time for him. After that day when we all met virtually, I opened up the envelope and the first name I was looking for to be quite honest with you, was John Lynch.”

On Sunday evening, the Hall will unveil Lynch’s bust at his induction ceremony. He’ll join Warren Sapp (2013) and Derrick Brooks (2014) on stage in Canton and try to limit his speech to 6-8 minutes.

Good luck with that, No. 47. There’s too many people to thank, too much help he received along the way.

Lynch has selected his son, Jake, to be his presenter and former Bucs secondary coach Herm Edwards as his co-presenter. Lynch will bat cleanup in the enshrinement lineup, speaking just after Peyton Manning and just before Calvin Johnson.

It’s been almost six months since Baker and an NFL Films crew traveled to a San Diego suburb and changed Lynch’s life — forever.

“Seven times before, I had to call and tell him that I hoped I could call him next year with better news, but he wasn’t going to be in the Hall of Fame that year,” Baker said. “I didn’t want to call John one more time.

“I’ve had the privilege of knocking on the door of a lot of guys who had to wait like Jerry Kramer, who waited 45 years. If you remember, I knocked on the door and Jerry said, ‘You are the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a long time.’ To the best of my knowledge, that’s the only time in my life I’ve ever been called beautiful.”

When the Hall contacted Lynch’s wife, Linda, with the wonderful news, she was instructed to keep it a secret until Baker’s arrival. In the meantime, she made sure her husband would be surrounded by family and friends when the historical knock came down on a Sunday afternoon.

“They had everybody over the house at Rancho Santa Fe to watch the conference championship games,” Baker said. “It’s this huge door and I have a huge knock, so they know it’s me. When John came to the door, he said, ‘What?’ I think for him, he thought someday this is going to happen, but he’d been told no and therefore he didn’t want to expect it too much.

“I remember him saying he’d tried to come to peace with the fact that it may not happen, but this is really great. To have everybody there, it was really, really cool.”

Staying Classy

When you’ve been turned away at Canton’s doorstep so many times, it’s easy to turn bitter and curse the process. Lynch never did, and it helped to have the passionate support of icons like Brooks, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Barry Sanders.

Ira Kaufman references Simeon Rice awaiting his Ohio group hug.

Still, Lynch had to sit on the sidelines while contemporaries like Brian Dawkins, Ed Reed, Steve Atwater and Troy Polamalu earned gold jackets at the safety position between 2018 and 2020.

When Baker broke the news to Lynch in person, it was a toss-up which man flashed a bigger smile. Lynch was vindicated and Baker was relieved.

Good luck finding someone with a bad word to say about John Lynch. He’s now one of 36 defensive backs with a Hall of Fame bust and few Canton immortals can match Lynch when it comes to representing the values of the Hall: commitment, integrity, courage, respect and excellence.

Who wouldn’t want John Lynch as a member of their club?

He’ll walk the gauntlet of fellow Hall of Famers Friday night before trying on that gold jacket. Waiting at the end of the line will be Sapp and Brooks, all three forever bonded now as Buc legends on the NFL’s best defense of its era.

Canton’s not finished with this group. Not yet. Ronde Barber and Simeon Rice are still awaiting their group hug.

For Lynch, the waiting was the hardest part. Now he can’t wait to formally join the immortals of the game.

At 6-foot-9 and 400 pounds, David Baker is a towering figure. But on that unforgettable day in Rancho Santa Fe, he was indeed one beautiful sight.

11 Responses to “Presenting John Lynch”

  1. Medicated Pete Says:

    Pete’s just glad John Lynch didn’t sign TB12 last year. So, Lynch helped bring the Bucs two Superbowls

  2. James Allen Lofton Says:

    Good things happen to a class act person like John Lynch. He was always greatly respected and feared…a credit to the Bucs, the NFL and to the HOF alumni

  3. Buczilla Says:

    Great article Ira and thank you for your perseverance in getting our guys in the hall despite the odds usually being against you. When the majority (hopefully more folks with integrity like Dungy will be added) of the voters are part of the “good ole boy” clique, our guys will always have to be above and beyond lesser players in order to get their due. When far lesser players like Steve Atwater and Thomas Bassinger’s (what a moronic article this louse wrote 3 years ago) man crush Sean Dawkins got in before Lynch, I knew for sure that the whole hof process was sketchy at best.

    Ah well, rant over and I’m happy for Lynch. Now to get in Rice and Barber! Hell, if freaking Dawkins can be let in, Alstott might have a shot down the road as well. 😋

  4. Leighroy Says:

    Love Lynch. His is the only creamsicle style jersey I have.

    Alstott is an interesting name for the HOF, Buczilla. I know he doesn’t have the comparable stats for elected RBs and never truly was a FB. But who had more famous highlights than he?

    Any football fan of the 90’s and 00’s, from any town, likely remembers watching Chris Berman yelling “boosh” throughout highlights of broken tackles after broken tackles. He was a physical and stylistic oddity compared to his peers and there hasn’t been anyone like him since.

    The novelty factor, coupled with the fact he exudes the qualities Ira mentioned the HOF values…. For me the order of priority now is Ronde, Alstott then Rice. Barber should get it eventually but I fear the other 2 are wishful thinking.

  5. Buczilla Says:

    I agree with ya Leighroy on Barber. Rice has a tough road ahead and I think that Alstott’s only chance is as a senior candidate.

  6. #1bucsfan Says:

    This is where it all started for me. Watching John lynch knock people out is what made me a football fan and a Bucs fan. He will always be my favorite player. I remember watching WRs drop passes cause they heard and saw the footsteps n shadow of #47. The fear he struck into players and the hits he put on players that dared to cross the middle are priceless. Love that guy. So glad he finally got in. Let’s goooooo

  7. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I love John Lynch, and think he is hall of fame material.
    However, as much as I loved Mike Alstott, I don’t think he belongs in the Hall Of Fame.
    Yes, Alstott had several highlight moments, but his overall Numbers just don’t support entrance to the Hall Of fame.

  8. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Well deserved John, and good job Ira helping to get him in. It would be great to see the link to the video of the knock again.

  9. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Next up: Ronde Barber, who to be fair, is the most deserving Buccaneer since Lee Roy Selmon. He simply has the best resume of any CB who has ever played.

  10. William Walls Says:

    Being a writer, I love reading Ira’s columns. He always finds a way to present the story in a way that juxtaposes the end of the story with the beginning, making the reader feel complete, like he’s come full circle. Deconstructing Ira’s articles is a master class in journalistic writing. We readers of JoeBucsFan are so lucky.

  11. Alvin Scissors Harper Says:

    I’m as big a fan as anybody is of Alstott. However, there is no way he’s Hall of Fame material. Barber and Rice? Absofreakinglutely!