John Lynch was one of the NFL's most feared hitters, and he was indiscriminate while punishing ballcarriers.
On a cold November day in 1997, the Bucs played a bad Chicago Bears team at Soldier Field. It was a big day for the Lynch family. John Allred was a rookie tight end for the Bears. He's also Lynch's brother-in-law.
In a suite were Lynch's wife, Linda, and the Allred family.
Early in the game, Bears quarterback Erik Kramer threw a 9-yard pass in the flat to Allred. It put him in the crosshairs of Lynch, whose job was to cover the tight end. But Lynch was peeking in the backfield and bit on a play-action fake. When Allred caught the ball, Lynch had to turn on the jets to catch him. The collision, according to Lynch, wasn't one of his biggest hits. He caught Allred in the right place, however, because Allred was knocked out. Cold.
"I hate to say it and I've said it to my brother-in-law, it wasn't that hard of a hit," Lynch said. "I kind of got beat on the play. They talk about minding your luggage and my luggage was the tight end on that play, and I got a little nosy on the run and they threw a boot(leg) on me and it happened to be my brother-in-law. It was more out of fear like, 'Oh my God, I didn't do my job,' so I sprinted over there and just grazed him in the right place.
"I walked back to the huddle because I didn't know anything happened. (Derrick) Brooks, he always kept his mouthpiece in, so it was hard to hear him. 'C'mon man.' I said, 'What?' He said, 'You're not even going to go over and check on him?' I looked over and there was my brother-in-law and he had signs of a guy who had been knocked out. 'Oh my gosh. What did I do?' …
"Unfortunately, my brother-in-law had a nice career but that's kind of what he gets remembered for. I think it was John Madden who liked telling that story … and he told the whole world about it."
Allred played six NFL seasons for the Bears and Steelers. He caught 29 other passes, including two touchdowns, in his career. But he is only asked about that one.