TAMPA, Fla. -- I think John Lynch belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I have to admit I’m partial.
I had the good fortune to cover the early part of Lynch’s career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. I saw plenty of big hits that made the highlight reels. I also saw some big interceptions. Beyond that, I saw one of the nicest guys I’ve ever covered.
But personality doesn’t count in the Hall of Fame voting. If it did, Lynch would have no problem getting in. But the reality is he’s fighting an uphill battle. He made it to the final 15, but he may not make it any further when the voting takes place Saturday in Phoenix.
Safety just isn’t a glamour position in the eyes of the Hall of Fame voters. Only seven full-time safeties are in the Hall of Fame. Guys like Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson don’t count because they split their careers between cornerback and safety.
There hasn’t been a true safety selected since Paul Krause in 1998. And it took Krause, who is the NFL's career leader with 81 interceptions, more than a decade to get into the Hall of Fame.
If it was so difficult for Krause to get in, it probably will be even tougher for Lynch. The most important statistic for safeties is interceptions. Lynch had 26 in his career. That’s a respectable number, but it’s not a Hall of Fame number.
If Lynch is going to have any chance at getting in, voters will need to take a big-picture look at his career. They need to remember that Lynch, along with Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks, were the key parts to a defense that was the best of its era. They need to remember that Lynch wasn’t a center fielder. He could play the pass, but his bigger role was to be a hitter.
Lynch was one of the hardest-hitting safeties in NFL history. But that might not be enough to convince the voters to put him in the Hall of Fame.