Quick, who threw the first pitch in Miami Marlins history? The surprising answer is former All-Pro safety and current San Francisco 49ers general manager, John Lynch. He was selected 66th overall in the 1992 MLB draft. Lynch accomplished the feat with the, then, Florida Marlins’ minor-league affiliate.
Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh asked him to give football, his first love, another chance, even though Lynch had begun his baseball career. Armed with highlights comparing Lynch to Hall of Fame safety Ronnie Lott, he succeeded. In 1993, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected John Terrence Lynch in the third round (82nd) of the NFL draft. The hope, now, is he will be the first player represented in the Hall of Fame of both the NFL and MLB.
Lynch was not a full-time starter for Tampa until his third year, but once he did he became one of the most feared hitters of his generation. He was named a Pro Bowler five times, first-team All-Pro twice, and won Super Bowl XXXVII with the Bucs. He recorded three 100-plus total tackle seasons, with a career-high 117 (81 solo) in 1999. John Lynch-led units were regulars in the top-ten statistically.
John Lynch spent 11 years in a Buccaneers uniform. He was an after-thought under Sam Wyche; buried behind the likes of Marty Carter, Barney Bussey, and Todd Scott, John Lynch spent 11 years in a Buccaneers uniform. In all, he totaled 787 tackles (541 solo), 23 interceptions, seven forced fumbles (eight recovered) and six sacks. Quite simply, Lynch was a versatile player who made his team better with cerebral and gritty play at the safety position in Tony Dungy‘s Tampa-2.
Tampa released the defensive quarterback in 2004. He quickly found another secondary to roam with the Denver Broncos. Lynch played four seasons for the Broncos, making the Pro Bowl each year, proving that he was far from washed up when the Bucs cut him for cap reasons. In four years as a Bronco, he even outdid his forced fumble numbers from Tampa Bay.
Never reaching triple-digit tackles again, in 2006 at 35, Lynch amassed 83 total with 58 solos. Lynch and Denver got close to returning to the Super Bowl in 2005 but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship. Lynch would play three more years before retiring after the 2008 season. He finished his Broncos career with 267 total tackles (195 solo), nine forced fumbles (1 recovered) and seven sacks.
Man, Hit, Legend
When you put on the tape, John Lynch stands out. Lynch’s biggest impact was big impacts. Niners All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman says Lynch would be banned from the league as it is today. 15 years of production led to 1,054 total tackles (736 solo), 26 interceptions, 16 forced fumbles (9 recoveries), and 13 sacks.
His resume, on numbers alone, sees him compare to players such as Larry Wilson, Kenny Easley, and fellow former Bronco and current Hall hopeful, Steve Atwater. To have a legend such as Walsh plead with you to stick with football speaks volumes. A history-making pitcher and professional enforcer in defensive backfields, hopefully, John Lynch gets into the Hall of Fame, again.
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