When John Lynch retired from the National Football League in 2008, he came back to Tampa to make the formal announcement. It was his first and true NFL home, where he spent 11 of his 15 seasons before an outstanding four-year coda in Denver.
Lynch purposely represented both the Bucs and the Broncos when he retired and shared memories of both portions of his career. For the Buccaneers, however, having Lynch in their house for the announcement was an opportunity to reflect on the enormous impact he had on the franchise.
FEATURE: JOHN LYNCH: A CASE FOR CANTON
"In John Lynch," said Buccaneers Co-Chairman Joel Glazer at the time, "we had Hall of Fame character, we had Hall of Fame dedication, we had Hall of Fame involvement in the community, and week-in and week-out you saw Hall of Fame play on the field."
Lynch's name and iconic #47 will be added to the stadium façade during halftime of a game in the 2016 season; the date will be determined after the schedule is released this spring. Lynch will become the ninth person to join the Ring, following Lee Roy Selmon, John McKay, Jimmie Giles, Paul Gruber, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks, Mike Alstott and Doug Williams.
Lynch was one of the greatest figures in Buccaneer franchise history, one of the most memorable players of his generation and one of the most impactful safeties in league annals. All of that is evidenced by the fact that he is currently a Hall of Fame finalist for the third year in a row. On February 6, Lynch will find out if he becomes the fourth player in the Hall who played all or most of his career as a Buccaneer.
Lynch, Brooks and Sapp famously huddled in a San Diego hotel room in 1996, after hearing the team referred to as "the Yucks," and vowed to turn it around. Tampa Bay won the next afternoon against the Chargers, finished strong in '96 and then won their first five in '97 en route to breaking a 15-year playoff drought. Those same three remained at the team's core – along with Ronde Barber and some other notable additions – five years later when the Buccaneers won their first Super Bowl championship.
As would eventually be clear, Lynch and his core teammates were superstar-caliber players, but they also demonstrated a force of will that led to the franchise's turnaround on the field.
Lynch's name is all over the Buccaneers' record books. He ranks fifth in games played (164), sixth in games started (132), fifth in tackles (973) and sixth in interceptions (23). He even gained 40 yards on his only career carry and once kicked off after an injury knocked Martin Gramatica out of a game.
Lynch also made it to five Pro Bowls as a Buccaneer; the only players with more in team history are all in the Ring of Honor: Brooks (11), Sapp (7), Alstott (6) and Selmon (6). Lynch made another four Pro Bowls as a Bronco, giving him nine total. That's tied for the second-most number of Pro Bowls in league history among players who played their entire career at safety. Only Hall of Famer Ken Houston, with 12, made more all-star games.
In fact, as noted in Buccaneers.com's case for Lynch as a Hall of Famer, Lynch is one of only two players whose careers began in the Super Bowl era who have nine Pro Bowl selections and are eligible for the Hall but are not yet in. He is the only player with nine Pro Bowl bids, two first-team Associated Press all-pro honors and a Super Bowl ring who is not yet enshrined in Canton.
Again, all of that and more is noted in Lynch's case for Canton, and that decision will be made by the Hall of Fame selection committee in a little over two weeks. What is not in dispute is that John Lynch is one of the most accomplished and popular players in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history. It is only natural, then, that his name and number join those of the greatest Buccaneers ever when he is inducted into the team's Ring of Honor at Raymond James Stadium next fall.