John Lynch is undoubtedly having one of the most exciting weekends of his life. On Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers, for whom he serves as general manager, will battle the Kansas City Chiefs for the Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl LIV. Not only would a victory give San Francisco its first championship in a quarter-century but it would also allow Lynch to join John Elway as the only two people to win Super Bowls as both a player and a general manager.
Lynch began the weekend with a chance to make even more history, as he was one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2020. On Saturday, the Hall's Selection Committee convened to pick up to five candidates for enshrinement in that class, which meant Lynch also had a chance to join Elway in Canton. However, that possibility will be delayed at least one more year as Lynch was not chosen for enshrinement in 2020.
This was Lynch's eighth year of eligibility and his seventh straight year as a finalist. That seven-year run suggests that Lynch still has a very good shot to eventually get a bronze bust; of the 14 candidates before him who were finalists for at least seven consecutive years, 13 have since been enshrined in the Hall. The lone exception is former Miami Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, who was a finalist each year from 2002-09. The most recent player inducted after being a finalist for at least seven straight years was Andre Reed in 2013.
Like Lynch and Reed, many other candidates who were clearly deserving of the honor had to endure lengthy waits, including Charles Haley, Cris Carter, Tim Brown, Jerome Bettis, Richard Dent, Art Monk, Harry Carson and Jack Youngblood. Lynch, too, 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.
If Lynch does eventually get his bronze bust, he will become the fourth 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. That trio was known as "The Big Three," forming the core of one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.
Lynch went to nine Pro Bowls; among safeties, only Hall of Famer Ken Houston went to more, with 12. 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 a defense that finished in the top 10 of the NFL rankings for each of his last seven seasons in Tampa. He had 26 interceptions, more than 1,000 tackles, 100 passes defensed, 13 sacks and 16 forced fumbles. He is a member of the Ring of Honor for both the Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos, for whom he played his last four seasons. John Lynch doesn't have a gold jacket yet, but he's got the credentials and, clearly, the attention of the voters.