The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its list of 102 nominees for the Hall's Class of 2019 on Thursday, and it includes three legendary defenders who were part of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl championship.
Cornerback Ronde Barber, safety John Lynch and defensive end Simeon Rice all made it to the list of semi-finalists for the Class of 2018 and Lynch was a finalist for the fifth year in a row. Hall of Fame voters will pare the list released on Thursday to roughly 25 semi-finalists in November and 15 finalists in January. The final balloting to select up to 5 modern-era finalists will take place on the day before Super Bowl LIII.
There were also four other players on the initial list of nominees who spent portions of their careers in Tampa. Tackle Lomas Brown played the last of his 18 seasons for the Buccaneers in 2002 and won a Super Bowl ring. Quarterback Jeff Garcia was a starter for the Buccaneers in 2007 and 2008 and helped lead the team to its most recent playoff appearance. Safety Thomas Everett finished up his career with two seasons in a Buccaneer uniform in 1994 and 1995. And punter Sean Landeta counts the Bucs as one of five teams he played for over the course of a 22-season career, having played 10 games for Tampa Bay in 1997.
Barber, Lynch and Rice are all strong candidates to make it to the list of semifinalists again, and perhaps Barber and Rice will take the next step to finalist status.
Barber is the only player in NFL history with at least 45 interceptions and at least 25 sacks, he went to five Pro Bowls and is a two-time All-Pro and he won a Super Bowl ring after recording one of the most iconic plays in postseason history.
Lynch was selected to nine Pro Bowls during his career with the Buccaneers and Broncos. Considered one of the hardest-hitting defenders of all time, he is also a Super Bowl champion and two-time All-Pro.
Rice ranks 20th on the NFL's all-time list with 122.0 sacks and all but one of the Hall-eligible players above him on the list has already modeled for a bust in Canton. From 1998 to 2005, Rice led all NFL players with 101.5 sacks; the players second and third on the list, Michael Strahan and Jason Taylor, were recently voted into the Hall.
There are three players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame who played all or most of their careers in Tampa: defensive end Lee Roy Selmon, defensive tackle Warren Sapp and linebacker Derrick Brooks. Any or all of Barber, Lynch and Rice could join them soon. In addition to other returning players, the former Buc stars must contend with such first-time nominees as Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez and Ed Reed.