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Hall of Fame 'Knocks': Lynch's Football Family Affair

Hall of Fame 'Knocks': Lynch's Football Family Affair

02/14/2021
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By George Veras
Executive Producer, Pro Football Hall of Fame

First-person on-site accounts of the Class of 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame “Knocks on the Door.”

Imagine you had your immediate family and friends over for to watch your former team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, playing in the NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers. You are now the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, packing your bags to leave the next day to scout players at the Senior Bowl.

Yes, you are a Finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021, but after seven years of waiting, you have come to peace that it is something you have no control over. You tuck it far back in your mind’s palace, if for no other reason than not to stress your family as well. Also, you say to yourself, how is the Hall going to find me if I am traveling the next two weeks?

So on this beautiful Sunday, just outside San Diego, when you heard a knock on your door, you look around and ask the family, “Is this another food delivery?” Somehow, you mentally had faked yourself out of reading the “play-action knock.”

Yes, John Lynch, this time it was the man who called you the past seven years with the not-so-good news, the pied piper of great news: Pro Football Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker. Behind Baker was a phalanx not only of cameras, boom microphones and neighbors, but also your boss, 49ers owner Jed York, and your head coach Kyle Shanahan, who had flown down from San Francisco to make this knock extra special and to help wipe out the bitterness of years now seemingly long ago.

A complete football family. They joined your wife and the rest of the family as co-conspirators that left you stunned – all orchestrated to give you the most special moment of a lifetime.

As you shook your head and looked around, you tried to compose yourself to thank everyone when a thought occurs: You had promised to call former teammate and Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks. President Baker cautions you to make sure Derrick and this large football family keep all the news under wraps, just like a football game plan, until Feb. 6. Derrick agrees, but almost immediately after the call he in turn calls Warren Sapp, who had made Derrick promise to let him know if he knew.

The term “super spreader” had taken on a whole new meaning.

None of that really matters to this newest inductee, who played at Stanford under Dennis Green, but really wanted to pursue baseball and was going to forgo his senior year until new Stanford head coach Bill Walsh persuaded him to come back. Drafted in the third round by the Buccaneers in 1993, John was the backbone of the Super Bowl-winning defense with Brooks and Sapp – and they knew it, which meant their teammate getting into the Hall brought final closure to all three. Hall of Famers know how critical teammates were to their ascension to receiving a Gold Jacket.

It is easy to say, “Wasn’t that worth the wait?” when it does happen. Over the years, you kept your pain and disappointment to yourself and your wife. You congratulated the new class every year, renewed football acquaintances with the Finalists – in and of itself an elite group of players – and in the middle of this as a new GM got the 49ers to a Super Bowl.

This is your life, John Lynch, and it was very good before the knock. And as you said to David Baker, “I had come to a good place with this wait, convinced myself that even if it happened how much impact could it have with all that I already have? Standing here right now, I was wrong. It has taken my breath away in a way never could I have imagined.”

This is only Day 1, John. The best is yet to come.

Watch John Lynch's "Knock"

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