‘Journeyman’ is defined in the dictionary as, “a person who has served an apprenticeship at a trade or handicraft and is certified to work at it assisting or under another person.” In the NFL, it’s a term for a player ‘on the bubble’ who’s present and future is not guaranteed. Linebacker Cam Lynch kind of fits both definitions. He’s had a climb thus far in his NFL career; learning and fighting his way from the bottom. He’s been on two different NFL rosters multiple times each in three different locations. He was signed by the Rams, in St. Louis at the time, as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2015. Since then, he has been back and forth with the Rams and the Buccaneers, now on opposite sides of the country. To make room on the roster at injury-depleted positions at the end of last season, the Buccaneers cut Lynch who was then picked up by the Rams again for the latter part of the regular season AND the postseason.
Lynch was signed by the Buccaneers again in the offseason and is now entering his third training camp in Tampa Bay. Football isn’t everything on the young player’s mind. His climb seems to be pushing him into the booth and given the uncertainty of his NFL status, he’s making the most of his platform while he’s here. This is Behind the Buccaneers with Cam Lynch.
You traveled this past offseason with Pro Tours to visit U.S. Troops in Sydney, Australia. You seem to have been a lot of places, what’s the most obscure place you’ve visited?
“After the Australia trip, we went to Bali. My girlfriend and I went there. That was pretty special. Went to an area called Caangu, which was my favorite part because of the surfing. The surfing there was sick.”
So you can surf?
“I mean, I got vertical. So essentially yes, right? First time surfing, though. We went to the monkey forest, which was kind of out in the wilderness about an hour away from everything. It was a 12-hour trip. We went to this coffee grove where they make coffee and tea, it was pretty awesome.”
Is that something you make a point of doing? Traveling in the offseason?
“Yes. I do the Pro Tours where we chill with troops overseas. The past two years before the Australia trip, I went to Singapore. That was pretty sick. In Singapore, it’s an island called Diego Garcia that’s like four hours away in the middle of the Indian Ocean. They can get to any continent they want. They can get to Africa, they can get to Asia, multiple places. They don’t always tell us what’s going on in those places but the military is there so if they need to take action, they can do that with ships and all the supplies there. But yeah, I do want to do something every offseason because why not? Why not now?”
Do you think traveling gives you a different perspective?
“It helps you grow and it makes you realize how blessed we are. A lot of people don’t have the luxuries we have in America when it comes to certain things. And some other places have better luxuries. When I went to Australia, healthcare is free. University, they call it ‘uni,’ it’s pretty cheap there. When it comes to travel and in the airport, they have cool different things they do that are more advanced than the States. But then in some places in Bali, the only thing they live off of is tourism. So they’re hustling everything that they do. It gives you a different perspective and a way to go about life.”
Well traveling domestically for you, more specifically in the NFL, is a thing for you, too. You’re kind of this ‘journeyman’ in a sense where you don’t have the stability some players have. What are some of those challenges you face with that?
“I’ve went back and forth between the Rams and the Buccaneers and I tell people it’s kind of like divorced parents, essentially. My parents are divorced as well, so I can relate to it. You’re going back and forth and I’d rather stay in one. That’s where the stability is. That’s where you’re better off. But it’s going into my third year with the Buccaneers so I’m very thankful for that. Florida is great. It’s a great state. There’s no state tax, the weather’s great, there are beaches, great football team. I’ve developed a family here so when I come back, it’s all love. Can’t beat that. But the thing is, too, I’ve learned your relationships are really important. I wouldn’t have been able to go back and forth and be accepted if my legacy that I left wasn’t what I wanted it to be. The relationships I’ve made, whether it’s ‘yes ma’am,’ ‘no ma’am,’ ‘yes, sir,’ ‘no, sir,’ or opening the door for people and smiling, little stuff like that matters. No matter where you go, be it Corporate America or whatever you do, saying hello to the janitor, saying hello to the GM or the owner, is just as important. Somebody told me there’s no job that’s too little or too big for anybody, right?
No matter where you go, be it corporate America or whatever you do, saying hello to the janitor, saying hello to the GM or the owner, is just as important. Somebody told me there’s no job that’s too little or too big for anybody, right?
“Like Shelton Quarles [the Buccaneers’ Director of Football Operations and former linebacker for the team], legend, but he’s doing everything from being outside collecting towels to cutting people to hiring people to making big decisions in the program. Like what job do you not do in here? I wouldn’t be surprised if he came in and cleaned up in here. Those are the types of people you need. It goes to show dedication. That’s a hard-working man. I think more people need to be like that. He’s good to people and people are good to him. That’s what we all need to aim for. Q is a legend and I don’t think many people realize that. He’s going to be a GM or an owner one day. It’s just about working your way up, whether that’s on the field as a rookie making your way through the depth chart, or doing every job like Q.”
Is that kind of your mindset then as you go through training camp and are always trying to prove yourself?
“It’s like you wake up every day not knowing if you’re going to be back at your house the next day. Imagine anybody coming to work and being like, ‘hey, I have to give it my best because it may come to that’ every day. Your back is against the wall every time but I think when you make great relationships and you focus on other things rather than that instability, you put your best foot forward every day. You could be way further ahead than other people because you put that foundation down. You’re like, ‘I put all I can into this, I put my heart into this, I’mma ball.”
Do you think there are some silver linings or strengths you get from being in this position then?
“Yes. Some people are used to being at the top because it was given to them. But when you climb up, you know what it took, so it makes you that much stronger. People who are at the top and go down, they don’t know that climb. I’ve been climbing my whole life. I’ve been fighting my whole life. Every day I come in, I fight so it’s rewarding to be able to create relationships during the fight. I’m wearing 43 this year because I have to wait for something else to come open. I went to the Rams last year and came back so my mind is like, ‘Ok, I have 43 this year but I’m going to fight to get my 52 back or I’m going to fight to get a number I really want back.’ Or not – I’m just going to wear this number 43 and ball out. I won’t necessarily let a number define me, I won’t let anything define me because I know what’s inside and I know my climb.”
When did you know that football was going to be your climb?
“My pops was a linebacker. He went to Colorado. He played at Long Beach Poly in California which is a big high school out there. I didn’t end up going to Long Beach Poly but ended up at Brooklyn High School in Gwinnett County, Georgia where we ended up winning the state championship which was pretty special. I think my pop’s legacy – he was that guy. I would see his Poly jersey like, ‘I want that.’ But in my own way, which I created, so that was pretty sick. Wearing that same last name Lynch is pretty dope, too. To carry that legacy into the NFL is pretty special.”
Now that you’re here and have this platform, what are you hoping to do in the future?
“I want to say build the brand. Build a legacy. Build something for people to remember you off of. Hard Knocks came in last year and that was pretty cool. They did a little special and I got to take them to the radio station. Since then, I’ve become a broadcaster. I built that brand as well, used the platform that way. I got to go to Broadcast Bootcamp. I got to do Players’ Tribune. I’ve gotten to do things like that to help build my brand so I can seamlessly go into the next occupation once this is done. I want to create great relationships and shine a light on my teammates because they’re great guys. Even the women in the building, the guys in the building, coaches all of that. People don’t realize just because you’re in the NFL, you work for the NFL, we’re people too. We do yoga, we go swimming, we go to the beach just like everyone else here. The light has to be shone on those things and that’s something I want to do and build as I’m playing.”
Sounds like you’re a story teller then.
“Yes, I like to tell stories. I like to start off with a bang and then land the plane, right? We learned that in Broadcast Bootcamp that at the end of the story you have to land the plane and finish strong. I think everybody has a singular plane in the NFL, everybody has a singular line where they’re going and those individual stories have to be told. If a guy sees your story and says he’s going through the same thing, maybe the same type of climb, then there’s a cohesion there, there’s a validation between the athlete and the fan and they get to understand us better.”
How's that for finishing strong?