It took John Lynch's career four years to really get going. Once that happened, it seemed like it would never stop.
Lynch’s career is a study in longevity, especially when you consider the position he played and how he played it. Lynch is a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2015, which will be announced Saturday night.
But Lynch put together a Hall of Fame résumé a long time ago. He played safety for 11 years for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and four for the Denver Broncos. He did it with a physical, aggressive style that has rarely been seen before.
Lynch was known for his brutal hits, but he should be known for more than that. While helping the Tampa 2 defense become famous in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Lynch put up numbers that are worthy of the Hall of Fame.
Although he wasn't asked to spend a lot of time in coverage, he was effective. He had 26 career interceptions and 36 passes defensed. Lynch was also a playmaker, recording 10 forced fumbles and 13 sacks. Lynch was selected to nine Pro Bowls.
His most complete season was his second with Denver (2005) -- he had four sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions. The fact that Lynch was able to put up those type of numbers late in his career is a testament to his durability.
Not bad for a guy who started only 10 games in his first three seasons. But once coach Tony Dungy arrived in 1996, Lynch was a regular in the lineup and became the prototype strong safety for the Tampa 2 defense.