John Lynch played 11 seasons as a Buccaneer and was a captain on the 2002 Super Bowl team
During the 11 years that John Lynch wore a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform, he was a locker room leader and a go-to guy for the local media covering the team. Lynch was a fierce hitter and competitor on the field, but also an eloquent and thoughtful speaker off it, able to succinctly analyze the positives and negatives in his team's play.
Lynch retired from the NFL last fall, but the Buccaneers and preseason television partner WFLA-TV know that he can still break down Tampa Bay football with the best of them. As such, Lynch was named the new color analyst for the Buccaneers' preseason game broadcasts on WFLA on Wednesday.
Lynch will join Chris Myers, who enters his seventh season as the Buccaneers play-by-play man, in the broadcast booth. The NBC affiliate will air three of Tampa Bay's four preseason games: at Tennessee on Saturday, August 15; at Jacksonville on Saturday, August 22; and vs. Houston on Friday, September 4. The Bucs' fourth preseason game, vs. Miami on Thursday, August 27, will be a nationally-televised game on FOX.
In addition to his preseason duties, Lynch will be a first-year analyst on the NFL on Fox for regular season games in 2009, a role in which he had a promising cameo last fall.
After winning a Super Bowl title and earning five Pro Bowl invitations as a Buccaneer, Lynch followed with four years in Denver (and four more Pro Bowls). He appeared on network studio shows on occasion during his playing days and it was clear that he had a bright future in football analysis if he so desired. Immediately after announcing his retirement at One Buccaneer Place last November 17, Lynch joined the NFL on FOX team as a color commentator. He was paired with Chris Rose and was in the booth six days later, covering a contest between the Minnesota Vikings and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"I was blessed to play in the National Football League for 15 years," said Lynch. "During that time, I took great pride in playing the game of football with the utmost passion. I look forward to bringing that same passion into the broadcast booth and communicating my love for the game to the viewers.
"I am excited to begin this new chapter of my career in Tampa, the city where my playing career began. It is a community that has been so meaningful and supportive to me and my family throughout the years and I look forward to connecting to the great Buccaneer fans once again. I am excited to work with Chris, and thank WFLA and the Buccaneers for this opportunity."
There's no questioning Lynch's knowledge of Buccaneer football. Though he spent his last four years as a Bronco, Lynch formerly retired at Buccaneer headquarters, an homage to his amazing career in the Bay area. He played in 164 games for the Bucs, fifth-most in team history, and finished with 973 tackles, also fifth. His 23 interceptions rank sixth in Buccaneer annals and his five Pro Bowls are the most by a safety in franchise history. Adding in his Bronco numbers, Lynch finished his career with 1,277 tackles, 26 interceptions, 100 passes defensed and 13 sacks.
And, of course, Lynch was a key figure in the Buccaneers' turnaround in the mid '90s. After 14 straight losing seasons, Tampa Bay emerged as a playoff team in 1997, with Lynch, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp forming the core of an emerging defense. That defense would go on to finish in the league's top 10 in each of Lynch's remaining six years with the team, and the Bucs would go to the playoffs again in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002.
All of that peaked, of course, in 2002, when Tampa Bay went 12-4, won the newly-formed NFC South and swept through the playoffs, defeating Oakland, 48-21, in Super Bowl XXXVII. Though the defense had many stars in that game — and a Super Bowl record three interception-return touchdowns — Lynch, a team captain, was one of the main difference-makers, directing a defensive backfield that was always a step ahead of Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, the league MVP.
Lynch first joined the Buccaneers as a third-round draft pick in 1993, two years before the arrivals of Brooks and Sapp. His career took off with the arrival of Head Coach Tony Dungy and Defensive Coordinator Monte Kiffin in 1996, and his penchant for devastating hits on opposing ballcarriers quickly made him a fan favorite in Tampa. Later, he acquired the nickname, "The Closer," after making a string of game-clinching interceptions and big plays. His fourth-quarter interception against Washington in a 1999 NFC Divisional Playoff game sparked a furious rally from 13-0 down, and the resulting 14-13 victory put Tampa Bay in the conference championship game for the first time in 20 years.