John Lynch's sixth year as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame once again failed to lead to his election, but history suggests he will eventually make his way to Canton.
As is customary, the Hall's Selection Committee met on the eve of the Super Bowl to pare down a list of 15 modern-era finalists to a maximum of five for inclusion in the Class of 2019. Lynch was among those finalists for a sixth year in a row but was not chosen for induction. Instead, the newest Hall of Famers will be Champ Bailey, Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed,Ty Law and Kevin Mawae. Bailey, Gonzalez and Reed were chosen in their first year of eligibility.
Lynch is the 23rd individual to be named a Hall of Fame finalist in at least six consecutive years. Of the previous 22, 21 are now in the Hall; the exception is former Miami Dolphins guard Bob Kuechenberg, who was a finalist each year from 2002-09. The most recent players inducted after being finalists for at least six years were Charles Haley and Tim Brown.
Many other candidates who were clearly deserving of the honor had to endure lengthy waits, including Andre Reed, Cris Carter, 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.