John Lynch on how defenses can survive today’s rules: “Be bold!”

(John Lynch photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Bucs)
(Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Talk of Fame Network

Nine-time Pro Bowl safety John Lynch dropped in for a chat with the Hall of Fame Guys over the weekend and was asked if defensive football the way he played it with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos for 16 years had been outlawed into extinction. His response was surprisingly positive about the future of defense in a passing league.

“The great defenses found a way to adjust,” the two-time Hall-of-Fame finalist said. “All the rules allow you to do (today) is harass receivers within five yards. You have to be very bold. You can’t play scared. You have to get up in people’s faces and challenge them.”

Lynch cited the Seattle Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom” secondary as an example of how physical football the way he played it can still exist despite rules changes to make the game safer — although he admitted it’s more difficult in today’s game than it was in his to lower the boom.

Known throughout his career as one of the game’s biggest hitters, Lynch said that despite his physical style he had never been troubled by the concussion crisis that has become such a hot button topic today and suffers no ill-effects from his concussive style. And while he also said he supports today’s rules changes and didn’t believe they had taken the physicality out of the game, he conceded they probably had taken away the kind of play he considers his greatest hit.

“My most expensive one was on Dallas Clark,” Lynch recalled of his knockout of Clark on a crossing route. “It got a $75,000 fine…I thought I killed the guy. I got up afraid for the guy.”

That hit left Dallas Clark one of many receivers who probably wished Lynch had followed a possible career path into major-league baseball. After being drafted in the second round by the Florida Marlins in 1992, Lynch and his 95 mph fastball spent two years in the minor leagues, where he posted a 2.35 ERA in nine career starts. At that point, he had to make a decision.

After a discussion with his college coach at Stanford, the legendary Bill Walsh, Lynch made a choice that changed his life and launched a career that has twice brought him to the threshold of the Hall of Fame.

“I followed my heart,” Lynch said of choosing football over baseball. “It turned out to be the best thing.”

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