Discarded by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the 2004 offseason, John Lynch had 4 contiguous options: New England, San Diego, the New York Jets and the Broncos.
The Jets were led by Herm Edwards, his erstwhile presumption manager with the Buccaneers. Enticing. The Chargers were Lynch’s hometown team. Intriguing. The Patriots were successful the midst of their archetypal dynasty. Alluring. And the Broncos … were mostly chartless to Lynch and his family.
“Make this determination for the close reasons successful presumption of football,” Lynch’s wife, Linda, told him. “Send america to Siberia and we’ll beryllium alright arsenic agelong arsenic we’re together. We’re going to beryllium happy.”
Lynch chose the Broncos for shot reasons — manager Mike Shanahan’s presence, the antiaircraft strategy and the accidental to triumph — and remains blessed astir it years later. He made the Pro Bowl aft each 4 years with the Broncos, the last stamp connected a vocation that volition highest Sunday nighttime erstwhile helium is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“They made maine consciousness wanted and astatine the time, I liked wherever the squad was and the accidental to vie successful a spot that I thought would beryllium tremendous to rise our kids and we had a young, budding family,” Lynch said during a telephone interrogation with The Denver Post. “All those things came true.”
The Broncos competed (three playoff berths successful 4 years) and the Denver country connected to the Lynch household to the grade they lived successful Cherry Hills for respective years aft Lynch’s retirement.
Lynch, present the San Francisco 49ers’ wide manager, volition beryllium the eighth subordinate with a important necktie to the Broncos to scope Canton, including information Steve Atwater (inducted Saturday) and backmost Peyton Manning (inducted Sunday with Lynch among the Class of 2021).
Part of winning teams
When Lynch was connected the field, his teams played large defense. From 1996-03, his span arsenic a starter for Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers finished successful the apical 8 of fewest points allowed each year. In his archetypal 3 years with the Broncos, the units finished ninth, 3rd and eighth successful fewest points; they plummeted to 28th successful 2007.
Lynch, present 49, finished his vocation with 1,059 tackles, 26 interceptions, 13 sacks, 9 Pro Bowl appearances, 2 first-team All Pro selections and 1 Super Bowl (2002 with Tampa Bay). He is successful some the Buccaneers and Broncos Ring of Fames.
“John was arsenic bully arsenic immoderate information I ever played against,” Hall of Fame moving backmost Barry Sanders told the Buccaneers’ website. “He reminded maine a batch of guys similar Ronnie Lott and Steve Atwater. He was a terrific player, a large defender — a fierce defender. He could sound the snot retired of you.”
Lynch was a portion of manager Tony Dungy and antiaircraft coordinator Monte Kiffin’s defense, a carnal (listed astatine 6-foot-2/220 pounds) defender who could thump the shot carrier, screen and way the shot downfield.
Dungy and Kiffin are conscionable 2 of the galore title coaches Lynch played for, starting with Bill Walsh (Stanford), Dungy and Jon Gruden (Tampa Bay), and Shanahan.
Lynch’s NFL prospects took disconnected successful his lone twelvemonth playing for Walsh.
“Unbelievable,” Lynch said. “He was a immense believer successful maine and what I could do, not lone astatine Stanford but onto the NFL. I wouldn’t beryllium (in the Hall of Fame) without him. He was truthful dynamic and helium ran a shot squad similar a Fortune 500 company. It was poesy successful motion. … At the extremity of the year, we felt arsenic a squad we could person played with anyone successful the country. What an acquisition to get to play for him.”
A third-round prime by Tampa Bay successful 1994, Lynch played 3 years for manager Sam Wyche. Mired successful a 14-year playoff drought, the Buccaneers hired Dungy, past Minnesota’s antiaircraft coordinator, to regenerate Wyche.
Everything changed for the enactment and everything changed for Lynch, who had started lone 9 games successful 3 seasons.
“Tony was truthful impactful,” Lynch said. “A Hall of Fame manager and Hall of Fame quality being. He was an unbelievable mentor that benignant of showed you the illustration of, you could bash it astatine the highest level successful our league and besides beryllium a top-flight hubby and father. Very grateful.”
The Buccaneers transitioned to younger players aft the 2004 offseason. Lynch, 32, offered to re-structure his contract, but wide manager Bruce Allen declined.
It was clip to determination to Denver.
“Great 4 years”
Lynch was playing with his young kids successful the Hawaii soil aft a Pro Bowl erstwhile Shanahan approached to accidental hello. That speech proved to beryllium invaluable erstwhile Lynch was released by the Buccaneers.
Part of Shanahan’s recruiting transportation was his nonsubjective of gathering a Broncos defence that had schematic similarities to the Buccaneers. But Lynch said helium was utilized a “little differently.”
“I astir apt rushed the backmost much successful Denver,” helium said. “I blitzed a batch successful Tampa, but it was much connected tally downs. (With the Broncos), we did immoderate antithetic things successful presumption of overwhelming the discourtesy with all-out blitzes, astir apt due to the fact that we weren’t built similar we were successful Tampa with antiaircraft linemen coming retired of our ears. We had to make and manufacture walk unreserved truthful we got creative.”
In March 2004, the Broncos overhauled their secondary by acquiring cornerback Champ Bailey from Washington and signing Lynch. Bailey was a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee successful 2019.
The 2005 play represented Lynch’s past champion accidental to triumph a 2nd championship. The Broncos went 13-3 and handed New England backmost Tom Brady his archetypal postseason nonaccomplishment successful the AFC Divisional Round.
“I had ne'er felt the caller stadium rocking until (Bailey’s 100-yard interception return) and man, that spot was truthful electric,” Lynch said.
In the AFC rubric game, the Broncos hosted Pittsburgh and mislaid 34-17; the Steelers went connected to bushed Seattle successful the Super Bowl. Fifteen-plus years later, the nonaccomplishment inactive sticks with Lynch.
“I thought we were connected our way,” helium said. “I retrieve the disappointment erstwhile Pittsburgh came into town. Certain ones instrumentality with you and that’s 1 that got away. The Steelers came in, got blistery and we couldn’t rather propulsion it off.”
Lynch departed the Broncos during the 2008 preseason, but lived successful the country until his household moved backmost to San Diego erstwhile his mother-in-law became ill.
“We perfectly loved Denver,” helium said. “We inactive person truthful galore friends there.”
Many friends and galore memories adjacent though his Broncos vocation was comparatively brief.
“I had 4 large years there,” Lynch said. “I americium precise grateful to Mr. (Pat) Bowlen, the full Bowlen household and to Mike for making Denver specified a large landing spot aft 11 years successful Tampa.”