For 18 years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one lone representative in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Lee Roy Selmon. Warren Sapp’s induction on the first ballot last year may have helped open the floodgates for multiple selections in 2014.
Three Buccaneers were among 15 modern-day finalists announced Thursday night — linebacker Derrick Brooks, safety John Lynch and head coach Tony Dungy.
Brooks and Dungy are among four who made the finals in their first year of eligibility, while Lynch, who did not make it past the semifinals last year, is in his second.
Here’s the full list:
Of the three Buccaneer finalists, Brooks stands the best chance of making it to Canton this year. In his 14 NFL seasons, all spent in Tampa Bay, Brooks was elected to the Pro Bowl 11 times with nine All-Pro designations.
He was the AP Defensive Player of the year in 2002, the same season he led the Bucs to a victory in Super Bowl XXXVII and he was named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade team.
Dungy was the head coach of the Buccaneers from 1996-2001, transforming a league-wide laughing stock into a contender. His Bucs reached the playoffs four times, including the 1999 NFC Championship, in which they lost to the St. Louis Rams.
Despite producing a winning record, Dungy was fired after the 2001 season, and became the head coach of the Indianapolis Colts in 2002. There, he implemented his Tampa 2 defense to complement Peyton Manning and a high-powered offensive attack, leading the Colts to a Super Bowl win in 2006 and becoming the first African-American head coach to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
John Lynch played 11 of his 15 seasons with the Bucs, where he gained notoriety as one of the league’s most ferocious hitters.
He was named to the Pro Bowl nine times and was selected as an All-Pro four times, from 1999-2002, when the Tampa 2 defense was in its prime.
He was released by the Bucs after the 2003 season and saw a career revival in Denver, helping the Broncos reach the AFC Championship game in 2005 and receiving Pro Bowl recognition again from 2004-2007.
The final voting will take place on Saturday, Feb. 1 with the winners announced during the annual NFL Honors, which will air on FOX at 8:00 p.m. live from Radio City Music Hall.