The Pro Football Hall of Fame was void of any Buccaneers prior to Lee Roy Selmon's 1995 induction, and then saw Warren Sapp join the ranks last year. The number could be more than doubling this season, as Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Tony Dungy all made the short this for this year's induction.
Former Tampa Bay greats Lee Roy Selmon and Warren Sapp may be getting some company inside the hallowed halls of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton next summer as it was announced that linebacker Derrick Brooks, safety John Lynch and head coach Tony Dungy were finalists who will be considered for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brooks is considered a certain first-time inductee by most, after a stellar career playing for Tampa Bay.
Brooks played 14 seasons, (224 games) after being selected by the Buccaneers in the first round (28th player overall) of 1995 NFL Draft. Over his 14-year career, Brooks never missed game, starting all but three games his rookie season and earning All-Rookie honors after finishing second on team with 80 tackles.
In 1997, Brooks led the Bucs to their first postseason appearance since 1981, notching 182 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, two interceptions, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 10 passes defensed while earning the first of 11 Pro Bowl selections.
The former Seminoles star was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2002 when he again led Tampa Bay with 173 tackles, career-high five interceptions (three returned for TDs), 15 passes defensed and one fumble recovery. Brooks was also a six-time All-Pro choice and named All-NFC eight times while also being selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 2000s.
Lynch, one of the most feared safeties in NFL history with his hard-hitting reputation, is in his second season of eligibility.
Lynch was selected by Tampa Bay in the third round (82nd player overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. The former Stanford Cardinal earned the permanent starting role in his fourth pro season, and racked up more than 100 tackles and tied a career-high with three interceptions, and from that point forward, was the anchor of secondary on a defense that perennially ranked among NFL’s best.
Lynch was voted to first of nine Pro Bowls following the 1997 season and earned first-team All-Pro recognition three straight years (1999-2001)
After his career in Tampa Bay, Lynch was signed as a free agent by Denver in 2004 and played his final four seasons of his 15-year career for the Broncos, helping lead the Broncos to a conference championship game in second season. That year, Lynch recorded a career-high four sacks, intercepted two passes, forced four fumbles, and racked up 69 tackles. In all, Lynch recorded 26 interceptions, returned for 204 yards, 13 sacks, and more than 1,000 tackles.
Tony Dungy helped bring respectability to a franchise mired in mediocrity after being hired by then just second-year owner Malcolm Glazer in 1996. Dungy began his career as an assistant coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers (1981-88), Kansas City Chiefs (1989-1991), and Minnesota Vikings (1992-95) before taking over a Bucs team in 1996 that had suffered 12 double-digit loss seasons in previous 13 years.
In his second season, Tampa Bay finished 10-6 and earned a playoff berth and two seasons later, in 1999 the Buccaneers posted an 11-5 record and clinched the franchise’s first divisional title since 1981. After six seasons in Tampa Bay, that included four trips to the playoffs, Dungy was relieved of his duties. Eight days after his dismissal, Dungy was hired by Indianapolis and during his seven years as Indy’s head coach, the Colts posted 12 or more wins in every season except his first when they finished 10-6.
Indianapolis claimed five divisional titles, and advanced to the playoffs every year of Dungy’s tenure and guided the Colts to the AFC South Division title (2006) and capped off the season with win over New England Patriots in the AFC championship game and a victory over Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI. Dungy became the first African American head coach ever to win a Super Bowl.
His overall record as head coach was 148-79-0.
The three Buccaneers and 12 other modern-era finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall’s Selection Committee from a list of 126 nominees that earlier was reduced to a list of 25 semifinalists, during the multi-step, year-long selection process.
The Hall’s Selection Committee will meet in New York City on Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 to announce the 2014 inductees.
Copyright © 2011 Pewter Report, PewterReport.com and Pewter Insider. All rights reserved. PewterReport.com, the official site of Pewter Report, is an independent source of news and commentary and is not affiliated with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers or the NFL.