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John Lynch, Steve Atwater feel honored, hopeful on eve of Pro Football Hall of Fame vote

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — On the eve of perhaps the biggest weekend of his life, Broncos Ring of Famer and 49ers general manager John Lynch was confident he would be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame "when it's the right time."

The two-time first-team All-Pro and nine-time Pro Bowler is one of 15 men in the Hall of Fame's history to be selected as a finalist for seven consecutive years.

Thirteen of those 15 men are now in the Hall of Fame. Only Lynch and guard Bob Kuechenberg remain outside of Canton.

"The numbers say it's going to happen if I've made it this many times to this level," Lynch told on Friday. "So when it's the right time, it's going to happen, and I'm hopeful it's this week, but we'll see."

Lynch joins Broncos Ring of Famer Steve Atwater and 13 others as the 15 finalists for Hall of Fame's Modern-Era class. The selection committee will convene Saturday to choose as many as five of those finalists for induction later this year.

Atwater, who joined Lynch on Friday at the Merlin Olsen luncheon, seemed to have a similar perspective. The two-time first-team All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler is a Hall of Fame finalist for the third time.

"[I] try to go into it with the same mentality and just hope we have a different result," Atwater said. "That's out of our hands. We've just got to trust the process and hope that the voters vote our way this time. If not, hey, we're going to congratulate the guys who get in and keep it moving and hopefully [it happens] next year, if not this year. But I'm hoping that it's going to be this year."

Ahead of the vote, both men tried to enjoy a weekend that surrounded them with NFL legends.

"It's definitely great to be here with all the guys, getting a chance to mingle, getting a chance to meet all the Centennial [Slate] guys," Atwater said. "I got a chance to talk some with Jimmy Johnson, Bill Cowher, Harold Carmichael — just some of the great players and coaches that I've seen over the years and competed against. It's really awesome."

Lynch has been occupied for much of the week as he and his 49ers prepare for Super Bowl LIV, but he said he's also relished his time at the Hall of Fame's events.

"I think you just enjoy it," Lynch said of again being a finalist. "I always say it, and I genuinely mean it, it's humbling, it's an honor to be mentioned in the company of the people, the Steve Atwaters of the world, the Tony Bosellis, the Alan Fanecas, the Isaac Bruces — I could go on and on. Those are the guys I played against and admired and competed against and tried to beat, but [I] always respected them."

By Saturday, Lynch and Atwater could be mentioned in even more elite company. The gold jacket news is almost here.

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