Sunday, February 4, 2001
home page local news opinion business island life sports
AP Sports
University of Hawaii
High Schools
Surf Report
Golf Guide
Classified Ads
Restaurant Guide
Business Directory

Posted on: Sunday, February 4, 2001

Football right path for Lynch

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Staff Columnist

More than anything, it is the Monday mornings that give John Lynch pause for thought.

It is when the aches, pains and bruises of the game the day before, the accumulated battering of a season in the NFL, gang up on the Tampa Bay safety that there is occasionally a flicker of "what if. . ."

What if, for example, Lynch had chosen to use a 95 mph fastball to earn his paychecks instead of having to bring down 255-pound Ron Dayne?

What if, coming out of Stanford, Lynch had listened to the Florida Marlins, who made him a second-round choice in the 1992 Major League draft, instead of the Buccaneers who made him a third-round choice in the 1992 NFL draft?

Would his baseball career have taken him to Cooperstown, N.Y., where his Marlins’ cap already rests in the Baseball Hall of Fame, instead of his third Pro Bowl today?

"I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t think about it on Monday mornings when I wake up sore," Lynch says. "Or, the times when I see pitchers making ($12 million) a year."

But deep down, beyond even where the pain of being pro football’s hardest-hitting safety the past eight seasons touches his bones, the second-guessing usually ends.

For football is more than just his first love in a multi-talented sports career. It is, if you have seen him intimidating wide receivers and running backs, his nature.

"Baseball is great and I love baseball, but football is my passion," the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder says.

"Everybody has their own style, and I take a lot of pride in my game," Lynch says. "(Hitting) is one thing I’m known for. One thing I get a charge out of is trying to bring a lot of that physical aspect to the game."

"He possesses a unique mentality to go with his skill," Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy says. "An anvil on foot," is how former Tampa Bay coach Sam Wyche put it.

But when Lynch first appeared at Aloha Stadium in the 1992 Hula Bowl, it was anybody’s guess which path his career would take. His father, John, had been a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the son first got noticed for his baseball talents.

It was a baseball career - one in which he threw the first pitch in the history of the Marlins’ organization - that took off first and offered the highest-paying prospects.

Football, meanwhile, was still something of a question. He’d been recruited to Stanford as a quarterback and only made the move to defensive back in his junior year. "When I first started playing minor league baseball I didn’t even know if pro football would be an option," Lynch said.

When it became one, Lynch had a choice to make. In the end, "I had to listen to my heart. That’s what it came down to.

"And, that’s what I am most proud of is that I made (the decision) with my heart. It was what I really wanted to do rather than what a lot of people thought I should do."

[back to top]

Home | Local News | Opinion | Business | Island Life | Sports
USA Today Scores | University of Hawaii Teams | High Schools Teams | Recreation | Surf Report
How to Subscribe | How to Advertise | Site Map | Terms of Service | Corrections

© COPYRIGHT 2001 The Honolulu Advertiser, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.