Safety John Lynch remembers tackling tips Ronnie Lott shared with him during his days at Stanford
If Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety John Lynch is indeed the premier hard-hitter of the current NFL era – and who's going to argue? – then he has assumed that mantle in classic fashion.
Lynch has been tutored by Ronnie Lott and praised by Jack Tatum. He has emulated Mike Singletary. He fits into that lineage perfectly.
Lynch discussed the lessons imparted to him by Lott and the encouragement offered up by Tatum in his most recent 'Your Turn' interview. The Your Turn series invites Bucs fans to submit questions for an upcoming guest using Buccaneers.com, then invites the guest to sit down for a video Q&A session using the fans' own words. Lynch was the Your Turn guest last week.
The second half of that interview is available for viewing in the Buccaneers.com video archive or in the Broadcast Network console on the home page. A full written transcript of the interview can also be found below.
To read the transcript of the first half of Lynch's interview, please click here. The video of that interview is also in the video archive and in the Broadcast Network.
Your Turn with John Lynch, Part II
Moderator: "We're back for Part II of our 'Your Turn' interview with Pro Bowl safety John Lynch. Last year in the 2000 season, John had 110 tackles, a sack, three interceptions, seven passes defensed – I'm probably missing some others but it all added up to your third Pro Bowl season. It was another fine season and I'm sure you're looking forward to greater things ahead."
John Lynch: "Oh, absolutely. Pro Bowls are always nice but I think to a man in our locker room we're after a championship. I hope I keep going back to Hawaii, but much more important and much more of a priority right now, is to do everything I can to help this team win a championship."
Moderator: "That's great. You know the drill here. These questions are sent in by Buccaneers fans, and we'll just dive right in."
John Lynch: "Let's go."
J. Wateski of Millersville, Maryland: When it comes to mentally preparing yourself for any given opponent, what do you give more thought to and why: The opposing quarterback, the team's top receiver, its running back or the team's overall ability and style of offense?
John Lynch: "That's a good question. You try to get yourself in a routine. The longer you play, the more you figure out what that routine is. I think the answer to that is: all of the above, the overall scheme. I have worked a lot with Coach Dungy in terms of formulating that routine.
"Early on in the week, I like to watch game tapes, I like to watch the game in its entirety. Nowadays, with these computer systems, they can break it down to everything – third down, certain personnel groups, two tight ends, one back, two receivers, all those things. After you watch the entire games, maybe a four-game breakdown, then you get into the cut-ups. The cut-ups can tell you a lot, so you do it in that order. Once you try to do it, it's like a student studying. My rookie year, I used to stay up the night before the game watching as much film as I could, almost cramming. Now, I really try to spread it out and the last couple of days let my mind go clear. You have it early in the week so you can have a good week of practice knowing what you're going to be facing."
Jane Toney of Palm Harbor, Florida: What's the best thing about football to you?
John Lynch: "I think the best thing for me is that I have an opportunity to have a passion for what I do. I think it's so important in life, regardless of what you do, to really enjoy what you're doing. I couldn't think of any occupation that would afford me this opportunity. So I think that, number one, is foremost in terms of what I like about what I do."
Stanley Goodwin of St. Louis, Missouri: I am a safety, like you, at Cardinal Ritter High School. The hardest thing I'm trying to do is to pop somebody off the ground like you did to Marshall Faulk on Monday Night Football. Please tell me how. (I also think that that was a catch in that NFC Championship game.)
John Lynch: "As I discussed before, one thing I always try to do is envision hitting through someone. A lot of people hit to (someone) and stop their feet. Again, Ronnie Lott taught me early on in my career that the good hitters hit through people. He used to say, 'Try to envision not just one guy, but almost a four-dimensional being, and you try to get through to the fourth guy.'
"What that does is really let you explode. Other technique things: again, bringing your arms through in tackling, and keep your head up. That's for safety and for good tackling. Keep your head up and tackle with your chest and breastplate, and bring your arms through tight. If you bring your arms wide, your head has a tendency to go down. If you bring your arms tight, it sucks everything under your hips and allows you to explode through people."
Patrick Connolly of Cobourg, Ontario: You are one of the hardest hitters in the game today. When you think of hardest hitters from the past, who do you think of? Ronnie Lott? Night Train Lane?
John Lynch: "I think that's the guy everyone looks – Ronnie. We've been out to Oakland a couple of times in the last couple of years, and the league always has someone who's in charge of uniform codes. Jack Tatum's the guy who is there on their sideline. A couple of years ago in the preseason, I had a big thrill when he came and said, 'I like the way you play.' Wow, Jack Tatum. The crazy thing is, he's not that big of a man and he used to pack a punch.
"Mike Singletary, some of the linebackers you've seen were unbelievable hitters."
Moderator: "John, last year during the season, you suffered a dislocated shoulder in the Chicago game and, to the surprise of many, you actually played the next week. That, obviously, inspired your teammates and a lot of fans, and people still have questions about it. For instance…"
Jack from Elmira: A dislocated shoulder has to be one of the most painful injuries in the game. How did you manage to overcome that injury and still play with the devastating effectiveness you had before the injury?
John Lynch: "Elmira? If that's the Elmira in New York, I played some minor league baseball up there. In terms of the shoulder, it really wasn't that painful of an injury. It just limited me from being able to play football really effectively, and I had a loose shoulder. It hurt like heck when it came out, but once the doctors popped it back in there wasn't much pain. It was just extremely loose.
"Really, the decision next week was, could you play and keep it in, and was I going to be a benefit to my team or was I going to hurt my team? In the end, I didn't know the answer to that question, so I had to play to find out."
Moderator: "Well, we saw the results: the team beat Buffalo and everybody got a big lift out of it. The follow-up question is…"
Jeff from Trenton, New Jersey: Is the shoulder 100% or is there a nagging problem that could hinder your play this season?
John Lynch: "I had surgery to correct it after the season, after the Pro Bowl. Dr. Andrews up in Alabama did the surgery. It's been a long offseason in terms of rehabbing to get it right. I attacked the rehab really aggressively. That's one thing I think they've done in modern-day surgery – they go after your rehab a lot quicker. They used to tell you to kind of relax for awhile and everything would get tight.
"With good guidance from Todd Toriscelli and the training staff here, I went after the rehab hard and I'm probably – here we are a month and a half away from training camp – 85% in terms of strength. I've still got a little ways to go, but I've been out here practicing and it seems to get better every day."
Owin Chance of Wildwood, Florida: How long do you think you will be able to play?
John Lynch: "The best advice I've got from guys who last a long time in this league is, 'Don't think about it. Just keep playing and keep working.' That's the key thing. The guys that work hard in this league and take care of their bodies last a long time. Some luck goes into it, but if there's one common denominator it's the guys who put in the time in the offseason. I've been able to do that in the offseason, by myself with my offseason regimen. I think, for that reason, I'm still feeling great.
"I don't even think about when it's going to end. I used to think as a youngster, as a rookie, that if I could play 10 years, that would be great. Here I am coming up on nine and I'm just going to keep going."
Stan from Orlando: Do you like the nickname 'Friendly Fire?'
John Lynch: "(laughs) It's a fun one. That came from Brooksy (Derrick Brooks) and Hardy Nickerson. Sometimes in that cover two we play, I come up and they've already made the tackle, but you want to come up and help and finish the guy off. Sometimes they'll swing the guy and where the guy used to be will be Derrick Brooks! So I've given Derrick a few rib shots, but he does the same thing to me. While you want to get mad at the guy, you've just got to respect that they're coming to the ball. One thing you say is, 'At least you're firing.' We have a good time with that."
Kayla from New Port Richey, Florida: Since it's so hot in Florida, does anyone experience any problems during training camp? It's just so hot I'd think the guys might be getting heat cramps like crazy out there!
John Lynch: "Sure. And that's one thing Tony's very aware of. If you look at our past couple of years, we haven't started out extremely fast. In fact, we've started off pretty slow the last couple of years. Last year, we were 3-0 but then went on a losing streak early on. The first half of the season, we usually warm up about halfway.
"I don't know the answer. I think there is something to the fact that we get beat down in this heat. Sam Wyche used to try to attack it in a different way by practicing at night. I don't think Tony's going to do that, I think he's a big believer in getting out there (in the heat). But there's a lot that goes into it in terms of hydration and whatnot.
"I know, during the year, some people will ask why a team like Green Bay can come down here and play in the heat and it seemingly doesn't affect them any more. I think the answer to that is that we practice in it all week. While you try to taper practice down at the end of the week, you still have the affects from the week, whereas they're practicing in comfort, sometimes indoors. They come down here and you can kind of do anything for a day. That's something you're constantly trying to get a handle on, how to best approach that. Hopefully, we can use that to our advantage."
Ryan Beitler of Allentown, Pennsylvania: Do you think that your luck will ever change in freezing weather?
John Lynch: "I knew that one was coming! I sure do. We California guys and Florida guys are finally learning how to play in that weather, knowing that it's not going to kill you. You know, we've played some good football up there in bad weather, we just haven't been able to pull games out. I hope we have that opportunity again, I really do, so we can do something about that."
Brad from Akron, Ohio: Last year when facing what was called the 'rematch' of the '99 playoff game with the St. Louis Rams, you said, 'The Rams are a finesse team, and the way to deal with a finesse team is to punch them in the mouth.' With the signing of the Simeon Rice, how do you feel that will affect your ability to punch opposing offenses in the mouth?
John Lynch: "Whenever you can add a player like Simeon, of that magnitude … I look at our D-line now and across the board it's just scary. Simeon Rice, (Warren) Sapp, Booger McFarland, who really came on last year, and Marcus Jones, who finally came into his own. We lose a good player in Chidi Ahanotu, a guy who's done some great things for us, but Simeon will come in and give us another speed guy off the corner. That really makes it tough. What it does is present a challenge for the other team in terms of who are we going to double-team? Pick your poison. It will be a great addition for us. He's starting to learn just in this mini-camp how fun it is to play in this defense. You have an atmosphere where everybody's working to get to the ball on every play. He's starting to really enjoy that. It will be a great addition."