GM John Lynch makes some Hall of Fame voters pause, but not Derrick Brooks

Former teammates, from left, Derrick Brooks, John Lynch, and Warren Sapp laugh at midfield before the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. Miami Dolphins at Raymond James Stadium on Monday night. Sapp will beinducted into the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Ring of Honor and have his jersey retired during halftime of Monday night???‚??„?s game.
Published Feb. 4, 2017

TAMPA — Former Bucs great John Lynch, a true producer of sound and fury on a superb Super Bowl championship defense, is up for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Again.

And he might get in despite being named, out of nowhere, San Francisco 49ers general manager.

How dare he!

Yes, I'm hearing there might actually be Hall voters who will hold Lynch's new job against him, as if it's Lynch's fault.

He was hired fair and square, no matter how many see it as silver-spoon treatment, Lynch jumping over more experienced executives to the head of the line.

"What does this have to do with his football?" Hall of Fame linebacker and former Bucs great Derrick Brooks asked.

Great point.

Brooks wants his friend JL in the Hall, this weekend.

Lynch is a Hall of Famer to me. He belongs.

"I think his chances are great," Brooks said. "If history continues to support itself, John should get inducted. The Lord is going to bless me to be in Houston, and I want to be the first one to hug his neck when his name is called."

To Brooks, 47 was every bit as key to the Bucs defense as 55 and 99, Hall of Famer Warren Sapp.

"Just as important, if not more," Brooks said. "He sustained the level of play when the organization gave up on him. He switched teams. He switched conferences. He switched positions. He improved the Denver defense. It's not a question to me at all."

Still, do the Bucs really deserve to have three defensive players in the Hall from a team that won only one Super Bowl?

Sorry, make it four — defensive back Ronde Barber will be on the ballot in no time.

(Note: There are five Kansas City Chiefs defensive players from the 1960s-1970s enshrined in the Hall despite just one Super Bowl win).

"We deserve to have four in," Brooks said. "(Barber), too. We were dominant over a period of time. You compare that space of us four together, in the time we played, and it speaks for itself. We were dominant."

But the Lynch-GM development is fascinating.

"I was shocked, knowing that John had completed a very good year in the (TV) booth," Brooks said. "But when I dial it back to see what John was doing, preparing for games and other things, I think he's already been doing a little of this. Now it's just on a major scale. John knows it's not going to be easy. He knows he faces criticisms. He'll welcome them with open arms.

"I know what people are saying about his experience. At the same time, why not? Let's see how his plan unfolds. I'm going to bet on him, because I know the man."

Brooks, who is president of the Tampa Bay Storm in the Arena League, loves working for Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and is ever grateful. But he hasn't gotten an NFL shot as a personnel executive, not even with the Bucs. Think of all the candidates with more experience than Lynch, including minority candidates.

Brooks has an opinion:

"I know John well, and from being in this (executive) position myself, John knows how to lead and John has a work ethic, second to none. And he knows when and how to lean on his relationships. He knows there are enough people in his corner that he knows he won't be alone."

About the critics …

"You would not be doing your job if you didn't bring it up," Brooks said. "There's nothing wrong with that. You raise the question. Now that it's been raised, been discussed, where do we go from here? It's a legitimate point, but I'm not going to let it diminish this opportunity for my friend. Point blank, I'm supporting my friend John Lynch versus the critics of this process. … What I see is my friend.

"Does this raise questions about the process? Absolutely. But what about if it took this situation and one minority got one job later? What if this situation spurs the question and gets three or four guys jobs next year? That could be what's in store. I'm with my friend, but this probably creates dialogue for minority candidates moving forward."