Brooks, Lynch, Dungy among HOF 25 semi-finalists
By the time Derrick Brooks galloped into the end zone with his interception return for a touchdown to punctuate a Super Bowl XXXVII victory and embraced safety John Lynch, Tony Dungy had been fired by a Bucs franchise he helped turn around and was coaching the Indianapolis Colts.
They didn’t make that trip to a world championship together, but they all may be reunited and complete the journey at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Brooks, Lynch and Dungy were among the 25 semifinalists for the Hall of Fame Class of 2014 named Wednesday night. It was the first time eligible for Brooks and Dungy. Lynch was a semi-finalist last year but was not a finalist.
“I’m very humbled to make it this far and yet there is a very long journey ahead,’’ Brooks said Wednesday. “I want to keep everything in perspective during this selection process.
San Francisco 49ers owner and Tampa resident Eddie DeBartolo, Jr., also is a semi-finalist. The five-time Super Bowl winning owner was a finalist the last two years. He is the co-founder of the Brooks-DeBartolo Collegiate High School.
The list will be reduced to 15 finalists Jan. 8 and Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2014 will be announced Feb. 1 during the NFL Honors award show.
"Congratulations to coach Dungy, Lynch and Mr. D,'' Brooks said. "I'm thrilled to have a personal relationship with them all beyond the field and have them part of my life as a mentor and friends as we try to change the world through youth education, very similar to they way they affected the game of football.''
In 14 seasons, all played in Tampa Bay, Brooks was named to the Pro Bowl 11 times and was a first-team All Pro selection six seasons. He played on four division championships and one Super Bowl winning team. He was named the NFL’s Defensive player of the Year in 2002.
Brooks had 25 career interceptions, six of which were returned for TDs.
Dungy never trumpeted himself. But in addition to his success with Tampa Bay and the Colts, his contribution to the NFL may be as impressive as his won-loss record. He had one losing season in 13 years as head coach and won six division titles, one conference championhip and a Super Bowl.
Dungy is the first and heretofore only African-American head coach to win the Super Bowl. His success and keen eye for coaching talent spawned a tree of other minority head coaches that include Herm Edwards, Lovie Smith, Mike Tomlin, Jim Caldwell and Leslie Frazier.
Lynch is one of the most decorated safeties in pro football history and made nine Pro Bowls, second only among safeties to Hall of Famer Ken Houston. He played 15 seasons with the Bucs and Broncos.