John Lynch may eventually take his deserved place among the greatest players in NFL history, but it won't happen in 2018.
On Saturday evening, after a lengthy deliberation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee revealed the Class of 2018, and it did not include Lynch, who was one of 15 finalists up for consideration. The newest Hall of Famers are Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Brian Dawkins, and Terrell Owens.
Lynch, one of the greatest players in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history, was a finalist for the fifth year in a row and has been on the Hall ballot each of the last six years. Had he been selected, he would have become fifth Hall of Famer who spent all or the majority of his career as a Buccaneer, joining Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks. Like Sapp and Brooks, Lynch was instrumental in turning the franchise around in the 1990s and leading it to its first league championship in 2002.
Lynch is clearly a strong candidate for enshrinement, as evidenced by his repeated inclusion among the finalists. In fact, of the 17 players and coaches who were finalists in 2014, the first year Lynch made it that far, he is the only one who has not since been voted in. Because the selection process only allows a maximum of five modern-era inductees every year, deserving players often have to wait multiple years to get the call.
Charles Haley and Tim Brown were both in their sixth year as finalists when they were named to the Class of 2015, for instance. The year before that, both Andre Reed and Ray Guy were chosen in their eighth year as a finalist. Cris Carter, Richard Dent, Art Monk, Harry Carson and Jack Youngblood all waited six or more years.
Lynch went to nine Pro Bowls; among safeties, only Hall of Famer Ken Houston went to more, with 10. One of the most feared tacklers in league history, Lynch won a Super Bowl, was a two-time first-team Associated Press All-Pro and was a critical part of one of the best defenses of all time. He had 26 interceptions, more than 1,000 tackles, 100 passes defensed, 13 sacks and 16 forced fumbles. John Lynch's Hall of Fame dream wasn't realized in 2018, but it is far from dead.