The Coast News Group
Community Community Rancho Santa Fe Sports Sports

Jay Paris: Lynch poised to become a Hall of Famer — once again

If Saturday’s vote falls right, John Lynch is a Hall of Famer for the second time.

“The first one really wasn’t about me,’’ said Lynch, a former Torrey Pines High star. “It was more about my hat and jersey.’’

On this occasion, it’s the Pro Football Hall of Fame that’s on deck.

Lynch, of Fairbanks Ranch, threw out the first pitch in Florida Marlins history. His minor-league uniform fills a display in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

It’s believed his bust will soon do the same in Canton, Ohio.

Lynch, a dynamite strong safety for Tampa Bay and Denver, is a finalist for the third time. Come Saturday, his could be a super weekend and it has nothing to do with that 60-minute exercise between the Broncos and Panthers.

“Fortunately when you have four kids, that keeps me busy, keeps my mind occupied,’’ Lynch said. “I’m trying to manage my expectations.’’

It was his over-the-top play that has him on the edge of football immortality. Lynch, while anchoring the stingy Tampa Two defense, was an All-Pro three times and made the Pro Bowl in nine of his 15 seasons.

That’s all-grand and should be saluted.

Even more impressive, to this scribbler, is being named the Bart Starr Man of the Year, the “Whizzer” White NFL Man of the Year and the Junior Seau Foundation Legend of the Year winner.

That speaks to not how hard Lynch hit — and boy, did he — but the class act that was underneath the pads and helmet.

Not bad for a former Falcons quarterback.

“That was where I started acquiring my love for the game, playing ball at Torrey Pines,’’ Lynch, 44, said. “It became something that I loved to do and it became so important to me.’’

Getting on the field was what drove Lynch.

At Stanford, he was beat out for the quarterback job his junior year. Instead of pouting, he was pointed to the other side of the ball.

Then-coach Dennis Green, a Del Mar resident, suggested safety.

“I just wanted to get out there,’’ Lynch said.

The savvy Lynch hit like a defender but thought like an offensive player, thanks to his quarterback experience. That combination led to him being Tampa Bay’s third-round pick in 1993.

“I had an idea of what offenses were trying to do,’’ said Lynch, a FOX Sports football analyst. “That really served me well.’’

The Hall of Fame voters would do good by checking the box by Lynch’s name. That would make consecutive years a North County prep player would be inducted, after Oceanside’s Seau was selected in 2015.

Lynch is in San Francisco for this weekend’s festivities for the 15 finalists, and then he’ll retire to a hotel and await Saturday afternoon’s decision.

“Someone mentioned it’s like watching your kids play sports — there is really nothing more you can do about it,’’ Lynch said, with a laugh. “I can’t do anything about what goes on in the (voting) room. My resume has been written from that standpoint.

“But I do believe my career stacks up really well and I am deserving. I was raised that you let other people write your press clippings, but when the voters reach out to me, I tell them I believe I belong.’’

That he does.

“I was naïve the first time I got to this point, thinking everybody goes in,’’ Lynch said. “That’s not necessarily the case and you realize how tough it is to get in. That is why it is the Hall of Fame.’’

Contact Jay Paris at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at jparis_ sports.