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Pro Football Hall of Fame: A deserving John Lynch among stacked list of candidates

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The former standout safety for the Denver Broncos and previously the 2002 world champion Buccaneers is a potential inductee in this year's Pro Football Hall of Fame. But Lynch and fellow Bronco Terrell Davis are not shoe-ins despite their immense talent.

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While much of the football world is obsessed with whether this Lynch will or won't talk to the media, and the world-world is debating whether this Lynch will be the new U.S. Attorney General, Broncos Country knows there is only one Lynch to be talking about.

John Lynch. No. 47. Pit Bull.

OK, that last one was just my take, but it fits. There are few safeties as ferocious as Lynch. (Broncos' Steve Atwater was definitely one and should be in the HOF too, but that's another blog.)

The former Broncos safety, who played the bulk of his career for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is one of two Broncos among the coveted 18 finalists for this year's NFL Hall of Fame class.

A nine-time Pro Bowler over his 15-year career, Lynch was a member of the 2002 Bucs' defense (with fellow Bucs and Hall-of-Famers Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks) that is considered one of the best ever in NFL history and could be responsible for the famous cliché, "Defense wins championships" since that D was the reason the Buccaneers held off the four-point favorite Raiders, 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Lynch played for the Bucs from 1993-2004, amassing 787 tackles in that 11-year span while also pulling quarterbacks down six times and intercepting them 23.

The third-round draft pick out of Stanford was already 32 years old when he joined the Broncos in 2004 after being released by the Bucs in Free Agency.

Despite his age, Lynch's fire, tenacity and leadership on the field were a huge spark for a Broncos defense that needed some toughness.

"You cannot ever have fear on the field," Lynch said. "You've always got to have a little bit of a feeling of immortality that you're going to go after it.

Lynch registered 64 tackles, three forced fumbles, two sacks, and one interception in his first season as a Bronco. Over his four-year career in Denver, the free safety had 267 tackles, seven sacks, three interceptions and nine forced fumbles.

Whether he was pounding a runner, slamming a quarterback or intimidating a receiver, Lynch loved to threaten his opponent.

At times you were asked to be a defensive lineman, at times a linebacker and other times a cornerback. They asked a lot but I always loved that challenge.   -John Lynch on playing Safety

"That's the thing I always loved about the position - at times you were asked to be a defensive lineman and at times you were asked to be a linebacker, and other times you were asked to cover like a cornerback," Lynch said at his retirement from football in 2008. "They asked a lot but I always loved that challenge."

Lynch will be facing another major challenge this weekend, but this time he has no control over the outcome.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is a stacked roster - including fellow Bronco running back and Super Bowl MVP Terrell Davis, two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner, and linebacker Junior Seau - and Lynch's chances of getting in are iffy.

But the current color commentator at FOX Sports isn't concerning himself with that too much because he knows he's on there with some all-time greats.

"How do you pick from that list?" Lynch told the Denver Post this week. "My thoughts are the same as last year: I'm very honored. I do feel a little bit more momentum this year. But gosh, that list is so incredible."

I believe I belong, but Terrell Davis, man...that kind of player belongs in the Hall.   -John Lynch on Terrell Davis being inducted to the Hall of Fame

And proving what a great guy Lynch is - and another reason he endeared himself to Broncos fans in such short time - he would pick Terrell Davis over himself.

"I believe I belong, and I think in due time it will happen, but I've got to say, Terrell Davis, man...there were two or three years where he was the best player in the NFL, not just the best running back, and that kind of player belongs in the Hall," Lynch said of his fellow HOF candidate. "I don't care how long he played. I'm just saying that having played against him, he belongs there."

You both do.