John Lynch and Simeon Rice, two decorated defenders from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl-winning era, are among this year's nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Lynch and Rice were among the 94 initial modern-era Hall hopefuls revealed on Wednesday. A total of 25 semifinalists will be selected from that group in November, and the list will then be trimmed to 15 finalists in January. The Hall of Fame Selection committee will meet on the Saturday before Super Bowl LI in Houston vote for the Hall of Fame Class of 2017.
Lynch has been a Hall finalist each of the past two years. He is one of nine 2016 finalists who are back on the ballot for 2017 hoping to take the final step, along with Kurt Warner, Terrell Davis, Edgerrin James, Terrell Owens, Joe Jacoby, Steve Atwater, Morten Andersen and Don Coryell. Among the notable candidates eligible for the first time this year are LaDainian Tomlinson, Jason Taylor and Donovan McNabb.
Rice was nominated for the Hall of Fame for the first time last year and did not make the next step to semifinal status. Both he and Lynch are hoping to join two former teammates and fellow Super Bowl winners who got their spots in Canton in recent years, as Warren Sapp was enshrined in the Class of 2013 and Derrick Brooks in the Class of 2014.
Lynch, who played the first 11 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Buccaneers, earned nine Pro Bowl trips and recorded 1,054 career tackles, 26 interceptions, 13 sacks and 15 forced fumbles. Known as one of the hardest hitters of his generation, Lynch is one of only two eligible players with at least nine Pro Bowl selections from the Super Bowl era who are not yet enshrined in the Hall.
In his 12 seasons in the NFL, Rice racked up 122.0 sacks, giving him a per-season average in the double digits. He recorded 69.5 of those sacks during his six seasons with the Buccaneers, and from 1998-2005 no player in the NFL had more than his 101.5 QB takedowns. One of the most dominant pass-rushers during his career, Rice was chosen for three Pro Bowls.