The two sides of John Lynch

Of all the plays that former Tampa Bay safety John Lynch made during his lengthy NFL career, one stands out to me.

Lynch’s signature moment came in a 1997 game against the Chicago Bears. Lynch already was developing a reputation as a fierce hitter, but that was forever cemented on that day.

Lynch put a vicious hit on John Allred and knocked the Chicago tight end out. It’s important to note here that Allred is Lynch’s brother-in-law. Lynch’s wife, Linda, later would joke that if she was a receiver her husband wouldn’t hesitate to tackle her. She might not have been exaggerating.

The thing that Lynch did best on a football field was tackle people. The strong safety was one of the hardest hitters of his generation and that’s part of the reason he’s a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame (the voting will be conducted Saturday).

But there’s irony in the fact that Lynch is best known for his vicious hits. He might have been a terror on the field. But, off it, Lynch quite possibly was the nicest and most refined player I’ve ever covered. He always had time for the media and gave insightful answers.

I remember asking Lynch at the Pro Bowl one year about the contradiction between his personality on the field and off it. Lynch basically said there was a switch he flipped when he walked onto the field.

That switch worked quite nicely as Lynch was a cornerstone of one of the best defenses of its era.

Is Lynch a Hall of Famer? I think he’s got a chance to get there. It might be tough this year because the class is strong and it isn’t easy for safeties to get in. But at some point down the road, I think voters will flip the switch and Lynch will be selected to the Hall of Fame.