John Lynch, one of the greatest players in Tampa Bay Buccaneers franchise history, has once again landed on the doorstep of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. On Thursday, Lynch was named a finalist for the Hall of Fame's Class of 2019, marking the sixth straight year that he has earned that honor.
Ronde Barber, Lynch's former teammate and another of the Buccaneers' all-time greats, will have to wait for at least a third year to advance to finalist status. He was named a semifinalist in November for the second time in as many years of eligibility but was not among the 15 players who moved on to the final step on Thursday.
Lynch and Barber were among the 25 candidates who were named semifinalists in November. Those two had made the cut from the original list of 108 candidates announced in September, though fellow Buc nominee Simeon Rice did not advance to the semifinalist stage after making it that far the year before. Lynch will try to join Lee Roy Selmon, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks as players in the Hall of Fame who spent all or the majority of their careers as Buccaneers.
Lynch was first eligible for the Hall in 2013, when he was named a semifinalist. The following year he advanced to the finalist stage and has repeated that step every year since. In recent years, Hall of Fame voters have found a way to end the wait for a number of players who had been repeat finalists. In fact, of the 17 players who were finalists in 2014, Lynch's first year among that group, he is the only one who has not subsequently earned a bust in Canton.
The Hall of Fame Selection Committee will meet on Saturday, February 4, the eve of Super Bowl LII, to choose up to five modern era players or coaches for induction in 2018. Others on this year's list of finalists include three notable first-time nominees: cornerback Champ Bailey, tight end Tony Gonzalez and safety Ed Reed.
Lynch and linebacker Derrick Brooks were both first-time finalists in 2014 and Brooks was voted in that year. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp was inducted in 2013, also in his first year eligible, and defensive end Lee Roy Selmon was part of the Class of 1995. Other Hall of Famers who have ties to the Buccaneers include Tony Dungy, the team's head coach from 1996-2001, quarterback Steve Young and guard Randall McDaniel.
Like Brooks and Sapp, Lynch was a key figure in the Buccaneers' run to the Super Bowl XXXVII championship. Lynch played 11 seasons for Tampa Bay (1993-2003) before finishing his career with four years in Denver.
Lynch's 11-year Buccaneer tenure began when he was drafted in the third round in 1993. He was named to the Pro Bowl following nine of his 14 seasons, including the last four in Denver. He is one of just four players in the Super Bowl era who has nine Pro Bowl selections and has yet to be elected to the Hall of Fame despite being eligible prior to this year.
Lynch earned three first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections and one second-team choice to go with those nine Pro Bowl nods. He is considered one of the hardest-hitting defenders in NFL history, and as a Buccaneer he earned the nickname, "The Closer," from long-time Bucs Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin thanks to his penchant for game-sealing turnovers.