Bucs’ John Lynch, Ronde Barber are finalists for Pro Football Hall of Fame

The safety and cornerback helped turned the Buccaneers from lovable losers into Super Bowl champs.
Safety John Lynch and cornerback Ronde Barber are among 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021.
Safety John Lynch and cornerback Ronde Barber are among 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021.
Published Jan. 5, 2021|Updated Jan. 5, 2021

TAMPA ― Safety John Lynch and cornerback Ronde Barber patrolled the Bucs secondary together for seven seasons.

On Tuesday, they were reunited on a team of finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2021.

It’s the eighth consecutive year that Lynch, the 49ers general manager, has been among the final 15 players considered for election.

This is Barber’s first year as a finalist. The Pro Football Hall of Fame class will be announced on Feb. 6 in Tampa, on the eve of Super Bowl 55.

“It takes a lot to move me, man, and I’m moved by this recognition,” Barber said. “After four years of being a semifinalist, I am very aware of how hard it is to get to the room of 15 (finalists) and I’m humbled yet extremely excited to be there.

“I’ve always believed I deserve to be in that conversation and now I am. We shall see how my career measures up with a great collection of my peers.”

Lynch, a nine-time Pro Bowl selection with the Bucs and Broncos, is in the Ring of Honor for both teams.

A third-round pick by the Bucs out of Stanford in 1993, Lynch establish himself as one of the fiercest hitters in the NFL.

He helped the Bucs go from lovable losers to a perennial playoff team, culminating in two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl 37 win following the 2002 season.

Two years later, Lynch was released for failing a physical and joined the Broncos, where he made four more Pro Bowls in as many seasons there.

Lynch’s time to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio, is long overdue. Of the 17 candidates when he first became a Hall of Fame finalist in 2014, the other 16 have since been inducted.

Much like Hall of Famers Warren Sapp on the defensive line and Derrick Brooks at linebacker, Lynch was the leader of the Bucs’ secondary. Tampa Bay’s defense ranked in the NFL’s top 10 in each of his last seven years with the team. The Broncos also were among the top 10 teams in scoring defense during three of Lynch’s four years in Denver.

Lynch finished his career with 1,058 tackles, 13 sacks, 26 interceptions and 16 forced fumbles. He had a knack for making a big play when his team needed it most. Fourteen of his interceptions came in the fourth quarter of games.

Barber joined the Bucs as a third-round pick from Virginia in 1997. Though undersized at 5-feet-10, 184 pounds, he was one of the NFL’s toughest players. His 232 starts are the most in club history.

A versatile talent, Barber revolutionized the slot cornerback position and was effective in coverage or as a pass rusher. He’s the only player in league history to record as many as 47 interceptions and 28 sacks. Barber also is a five-time Pro Bowl player and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s.

Both Lynch and Barber were huge contributors to the Bucs’ championship team. Barber owns the signature play for the franchise with his 92-yard interception return in the NFC Championship Game to beat Philadelphia at Veterans Stadium and send the Bucs to the Super Bowl.

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Other finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2021 include Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, Jaguars tackle Tony Boselli, Packers safety Lee Roy Butler, Steelers guard Alan Faneca, Rams receiver Torry Holt, Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, Saints linebacker Sam Mills, Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour, Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas, Colts receiver Reggie Wayne, and Raiders and Packers defensive back Charles Woodson.