Will 2020 be lucky number seven for John Lynch?
On Thursday, Lynch was revealed as one of the 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2020. The Hall's Selection Committee will gather on January 1 – as always the Saturday before the Super Bowl – to choose up to five people from that list of finalists to be enshrined in Canton next summer.
This is the seventh straight year that Lynch has been named a Hall of Fame finalist, beginning in 2014. He was first eligible for the Hall in 2013, a year in which he made it to the semifinalist stage. He has been a finalist ever since and, in fact, every other finalist in 2014 has subsequently been selected for enshrinement. Lynch could become the fourth player who spent all or the majority of his career with the Buccaneers to get a gold jacket, joining Lee Roy Selmon (Class of 1995), Warren Sapp (2013) and Derrick Brooks (2014).
Lynch was one of three former Buccaneers to make the cut to the semifinalist stage in late November, along with cornerback Ronde Barber and defensive end Lee Roy Selmon. Barber has been a semifinalist in each of his first three years of Hall eligibility and Rice has made that list in two of the last three years, but both will have to wait at least one more year to make the next step.
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' franchise turnaround in the mid-'90s and its subsequent 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; he first came to the Buccaneers as a third-round draft pick in 1993.
Lynch was named to the Pro Bowl following nine of his 14 seasons, including the last four in Denver. He earned three first-team Associated Press All-Pro selections and one second-team choice to go with those nine Pro Bowl nods. He also has the rare distinction of being selected for the Ring of Honor for two franchises, as both the Buccaneers and Broncos enshrined him among their all-time greats in 2016.
Lynch is considered one of the hardest-hitting defenders in NFL history. During his time 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. His career statistics include 1,277 tackles, 26 interceptions, 13.0 sacks, 100 passes defensed and 16 forced fumbles.