Bucs fans can probably still recall that depressing January afternoon in 2004 when they learned that new general manager Bruce Allen, due to salary cap reasons, would release 11-year veteran, five-time Pro Bowler and captain of the 2002 Super Bowl team, John Lynch.
It was a decision only made worse over the next four years, a time that saw Lynch earn trips to Hawaii all four years with the Broncos, including two postseason runs to end his career. Simply put, he deserved another contract in Tampa Bay.
Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
But that’s all in the past, and when it was all said and done, while he cherishes the time spent in Denver, Lynch felt closest to the team that gave him his first shot.
“If you would’ve asked me that at the end of my career – you’re so in the moment and (Denver’s) where I ended up – so I kind of thought I would see myself as a Bronco,” Lynch said during a post-press conference interview Friday. “But I think the further I get away, (I realize Tampa) is where I spent a large part of my career – 11 years.”
It wasn’t just the amount of years in Tampa that made it special, either. For a player who endured three straight 10-loss seasons to begin his career, Lynch remembers the feeling of accomplishment he shared with his teammates and the community when they turned one of the NFL’s worst teams into champions.
“I think about the struggle, where we started and where we went as a team and individually,” Lynch said. “Those are my fondest memories. I had great times in Denver but this is where I grew up as a football player and where we grew up as a team and as a family. My kids, two of them were born here and Jake grew up here. Most of my football memories when I come back – I remember things in Denver – but this is where most of them come from.”
Come next season (specific game still TBA) Lynch will see his name unveiled at Raymond James Stadium beside eight other Buccaneer legends, some of whom he called, “his best friends” and “greatest mentors.”
The Hall of Fame finalist is looking forward to the halftime ceremony, standing along side proud ownership and his former teammates while speaking to his most loyal fans.
“Everyone says, ‘Our fans are the best in the world’, but we truly had something special then,” Lynch said. “I still feel that every time. I still felt that as a Bronco, thinking I was going to get booed going out and it couldn’t have been more different. Every time I’m here broadcasting, those people are still around and I still see the jerseys. It makes you smile.
“Ira (Kaufman) talked about that quote from Barry Sanders, that ‘he occupied a spot’ and you had to ‘know where he was,’ and coming from him – that’s what you want to be as a player,” Lynch continued on how he would want to be remembered by opponents. “You want people to have to know where you’re at. Monte (Kiffin) used to say, ‘They come off the bus looking for 47.’ I played with some of the greatest players here and in Denver – Champ Bailey, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks – but to know that you were a part of that, that’s pretty cool.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
I’ll always cherish my #47 jersey!
I too still have my 47 white jersey, my favorite player ever.
John Lynch was always a class act. I miss the days of watching a running back get funneled into an alley and #47 coming downhill to make him regret it. He will always be a Buccaneer in my mind and I hope he goes into the hall that way!
I really think the Glazers should have kept him untill he retired.He is one of the greats that came thru bucs doorway-Go Tampa
They cast off all there great players and coaches. LeeRoy, Rhonde, and Brooks are the only ones who made it all the way.
Maybe I should have said Wilder too, but I’m not sure the Glazer’s were the owners then.
if i had to guess, #47 will go into the ring of honor when the raiders come to town. expect a big superbowl nostalgia fest and a late-season game day, to hedge against small crowds if the season hasn’t gone the way we hoped
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