John Lynch was in his eighth consecutive year as a finalist and his fourth as a Top-10 candidate.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: To access the David Baker interview, click on the following attachment: Ep 66: HOF President David Baker Returns To The Show (spreaker.com))
Before Hall-of-Fame president and CEO David Baker knocks on the doors of Canton’s next Gold Jackets, he typically notifies the Hall’s board of selectors first, announcing the names of the last five modern-era finalists in alphabetical order.
That’s happens the day of the vote, shortly after ballots cutting the field from 10 to five have been made and only after Baker swears the 48 selectors to secrecy.
But the past two years have been different. After voters cut the modern-era field from 10 to five, they weren’t notified. So they didn’t know the results until some of the finalists took to social media to announce them.
That was 2020. This past year was vastly different. The vote was held by Zoom call, and it lasted nearly nine hours. Then, nobody knew the Class of 2021 until over two weeks later when Baker appeared on national TV, knocking on the doors of Canton’s next Hall of Famers – an exercise he seems to enjoy. But, as he admitted on the latest “Eye Test for Two” podcast, there was one he anticipated more than others.
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John Lynch, come on down.
“I’ve had the privilege of knocking on the doors of a number of guys who had to wait,” said Baker, “like Jerry Kramer who waited 45 years for that knock on the door… But John Lynch is such a gentleman and such enormous class … and certainly with Super Bowl LV being in Tampa this would be a great time for him (Lynch was a star safety on the Bucs’ 2002 Super Bowl winners).
“So, frankly, after that day when we all met that day virtually, and I opened up the envelope, the first name I was looking for, to be honest with you, was John Lynch. Seven times before I had had to call him and tell him that I hoped I could call him next year with better news but he wasn’t going to be in the Hall of Fame this year. And I did not want to call him one more time.”
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That makes sense. Lynch was in his eighth consecutive year as a finalist and his fourth as a Top-10 candidate, and patience was required. But that’s easy to say when you’re not John Lynch. Where in 2017 he seemed a sure thing after just missing the previous two years as a Top-10 finisher, he suddenly lost momentum the following year and failed to move beyond the Top 15 in 2018-19.
But then he reversed direction again in 2020, and you know what happened this year.
“I think someday he thought this was going to happen,” said Baker, “but he’d been told no a couple of times and, therefore, he didn’t want to expect it too much. I remember him saying (that) he tried to come to peace with the fact that it may or may not happen. But (when it happened) he said, ‘You know, this is really great.’ “
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