Assessing the chances of 3 Bucs and the HOF

by Gary Shelton on November 22, 2017 · 0 comments

in general

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

One was the solid back-end, the tackler extraordinaire, the quiet fire.

One was the most instinctive player you could imagine, an iron man in the secondary, the greatness who outlasted all the rest.

And third was Inspector Gadget, the guy with the extra-long arms, the guy with the bust, the guy who changed blocking schemes.

Today, you wonder. How do you rank them? When you put John Lynch

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alongside of Ronde Barber alongside of Simeon Rice, who is most likely to go into the Hall of Fame this summer. Any of them? All of them?

If you had not heard, all three former Bucs' greats have made the cut to the semifinals. That's a long way from induction, as Lynch – four times a finalist — will tell you, but it's better than not making the trim.

Certainly, a case can be made for each of them. I did an article when I researched the great defenses of all time — the Steelers, the Bears, the Ravens, the Chiefs – on their yards against the rush, their sacks, their passing yards allowed etc, and only the Steelers came close to what the Bucs did over a decade. Ah, but they won the Super Bowl only once, which hurts. Voters seem to have limits on how many players from a single champion goes in.

My comparison has always been the Kansas City Chiefs of the late 60s-early 70s. That team won it only once, too. (And didn't even win its division that year). But the Chiefs have nine members in the Hall.

So the Bucs, who have three – Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Tony Dungy – should still have some slots left, correct?

What are the chances?

Lynch: I thought last year was the year for Lynch, to be honest. But voters aren't kind to safeties, and it's unknown whether taking the 49ers' general manager's job affected him. Lynch played in 224 career regular season games, with 191 starts, totaling 1,277 tackles, 26 interceptions, 13 sacks, 16 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and 100 passes defensed. Lynch also started all 12 postseason games he played in, registering 71 tackles, two interceptions and 11 passes defensed. Chances of induction: 60 percent.

Barber: It's the first year of eligibility for Barber, and some voters think that all but the slam-dunk players should wait for a while. Early in his career, you heard that Barber was a system corner, but he played man-to-man under Raheem Morris. playing in 241 games, with 232 starts for the Buccaneers – both franchise records. He started 215 consecutive games, tied for the sixth-longest streak in NFL history. His 200 consecutive starts at cornerback are the most at that position in league history. Barber is the only player in the history of the NFL to have 25 or more sacks (28) and 40 or more interceptions (47). His 28.0 sacks are second-most all-time among defensive backs, and the most all-time by a cornerback. He tops the Buccaneers’ record book with his nine interceptions returned for touchdowns (including postseason), and his 14 total regular-season return touchdowns put him fourth in NFL history. Chances of induction (this year): 38 percent.

Rice: It isn't Rice's first year of eligibility, but it's the first time he's made the semifinal list. Originally a first-round pick (third overall) by the Arizona Cardinals in 1996, Rice played his first five NFL seasons with the Cardinals (1996-2000). A four-time All-Pro selection (1996, 1999, 2002-03) and a three-time Pro Bowl choice (1999, 2002-03), Rice finished his career starting 161-of-174 regular season games, totaling 122.0 sacks, 59 passes defensed, 34 forced fumbles, eight fumble recoveries and five interceptions. He also started all seven postseason games he played in, registering 7.0 sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Some voters have considered him one-dimensional, but those who coached him in Tampa Bay will tell you he held his own agains the run. Chances of induction: 18 percent.

Others who made the 25-person semifinal list were Ray Lewis, Randy Moss and holdovers Terrell Owens and Brian Dawkins.


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