Ahead of the vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2021, we caught up with Alex Marvez, a Sirius XM NFL radio host who is one of several dozen Hall of Fame voters. Marvez spoke with DenverBroncos.com about how John Lynch's candidacy as an eight-time finalist could be impacted by a strong group of first-year finalists, how the discussion around Lynch could change and why Peyton Manning's Denver years were the perfect cap to his career.
Aric DiLalla: There's always a strong group of candidates of first-year finalists that are debated in the room, but this year seems particularly strong. How intense do you think the competition for all the other guys in the room?
Alex Marvez: "This one is really tricky, right? When it comes to Peyton Manning, honestly that presentation shouldn't last any longer than the presenter standing up and literally saying, 'Ladies and gentleman, Peyton Manning. I'm done.' Because we don't need to sit there and waste time in this meeting going over his credentials. We get it. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer [and] arguably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. So let's move on. The next question becomes Charles Woodson, Calvin Johnson, Jared Allen. How do voters feel — and I can't answer this question — but how do voters feel about first-ballot inductees, and how many would they vote for? And does that begin to split things up? Charles Woodson on some list would probably be above Calvin Johnson and Jared Allen, but a strong case can obviously be made for those two as well. And then of course every spot that's filled by a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer means someone who is in the room has to wait another year, or potentially, in the case of Clay Matthews Jr., not be voted in at all, because this is their last year as a Modern-Era finalist and they would have to be nominated down the road by the Seniors Committee, which is a different process altogether."
AD: Speaking of those other guys waiting, where do you view John Lynch's candidacy after eight consecutive years of being a finalist?
AM: "Safeties are tricky. Steve Atwater was able to get in, so that's a positive for John in that he would seemingly move up a notch at that point. And the fact that he keeps getting in year after year after year after year bodes pretty well for him ultimately getting in. Now is this that year? LeRoy Butler is going to have his supporters from Green Bay. So that's one that I think is interesting. If you feel that you're only going to vote for one safety, does that potentially take away votes from John Lynch? ... It's tough. I think as time goes on and you see John being one of two individuals to be an eight-time Modern Era finalist since 2010, if you're going by seniority and time in the room, then it's time to get John Lynch out of the finalist group and get him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. That may be something that works in his [advantage], just the longevity. Every person that's up for a vote is worthy of Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration and probably worthy of the Hall itself. Sometimes it's your time, sometimes it isn't. For John Lynch's sake, I'm hoping it's his time."
AD: When someone has been a finalist on several occasions, the stats don't change. What shifts in the room and the discussion that allows someone like John Lynch to go in?
AM: "There are new ways to peel the proverbial onion. Sometimes it's testimonials of people. I think that can sometimes sway somebody. I think maybe a new way to look at stats that present them in a certain light is something else that can help the candidacy of an individual. Sometimes it's a supporting case from someone else in the room who stands up feeling strongly that someone should get in that provides a little extra oomph to get this person in [and] over the hump. And I think, too, something that has changed is this argument of him being in the room eight times as a Modern-Era finalist. That does carry some weight in that he's going to keep being here. What are we doing here? Why aren't we elected him to the Pro Football Hall of Fame if he's obviously felt good enough among all the voters that he is reaching the final 15 year after year after year. I think there could be new material presented, but I also think John Lynch already has a strong enough case to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It's just a matter of, do voters feel it's their time — enough of them, the 80-percent threshold — to get John Lynch in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."
AD: How do you think his four years in Denver added to his candidacy?
AM: "They're good, because he finished strong. But everyone looks at the Tampa Bay stuff and his role in the Tampa 2 defense. That's really — at least me as a voter — I look at John Lynch more in his prime [in Tampa], whereas with Denver he was a very good player but he was going a little bit on the downside of his career at that point. That's not a slight on him, because he was still playing at a high level, but the John Lynch in his prime was one of the greatest safeties to ever play the game. But again, longevity — and production with longevity — is something that speaks volumes. The fact that he did make [four] Pro Bowls in Denver is going to work to his advantage as well."
AD: The Peyton Manning discussion will be short, but when you look at his Denver years, what do you think about? And do we maybe take for granted that he was able to return to such a high level of play after his neck surgeries?
AM: "I mean, it's remarkable, the comeback that Peyton Manning had. The fact that you just were unsure — I mean the Colts, the people closest to him, just didn't know if Peyton Manning was going to be able to make it back and it influenced their decision to instead draft Andrew Luck and part ways with Peyton. Obviously [he led] one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history in 2013. Peyton was a maestro, and you just saw at the end of his career the will to win and how he just continued to push himself, even though it was obvious he was having [injury] problems … and just wasn't the quarterback that he was. He embraced the team concept. People played for Peyton Manning. That was the big thing with the Broncos. The 2015 Broncos were a flawed team. This wasn't a great passing game or anything because of Peyton's situation, but everyone else on the team stepped up their game to help bring the Broncos that Lombardi Trophy. I think part of that was the leadership provided by Peyton Manning, whether through work ethic or just the fact that he's Peyton Manning and you have so much respect for him and everything that he continues to do for the game, that you want to give your absolute best to help the team win. I think that his Broncos years were just more frosting on what is already a delicious cake for Peyton."