Webster's Dictionary defines "lynchpin" as "one that serves to hold together parts or elements that exist or function as a unit."
Technically, it states that the predominant spelling is actually "linchpin," and that "lynchpin" is less common. But in Broncos Country, the latter is probably the more common spelling.
By name and function, John Lynch was a lynchpin to both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos.
When teams plan to sign free agents, which is where the NFL teams are right now, they always hope they are signing that kind of guy, that one guy who is a great player. But it is still a team game, and if the final team result is not the desired championship, that does not mean the individual player was less than that.
So it was with John Lynch as a Denver Bronco.
I talked to him the other day, and reminded him that the reason for my call was that he is not the kind of person with whom I want to ever lose touch.
John is the opposite of that.
If you are a team, he is the kind of guy you have to have and who you in fact cannot get enough of, hence his current role as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers.
Lynch played four seasons for the Broncos, from 2004-07 and was named to the Pro Bowl each year. He joined cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Aqib Talib as the only three players in Broncos history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first four years with the year.
The Broncos never had that ultimate success of going to the Super Bowl during his four years with the team, but in 2005 Denver hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers for the AFC title.
"We gave it a heck of a go," Lynch recalls, but it was not to be and Denver lost to the eventual world-champion Steelers.
But that was just a moment in time, both for the Broncos in their history of success, and for Lynch, who in 2021 was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"You know, I gave it everything I had and we won the Super Bowl in Tampa, and I put everything into it in Denver," Lynch says. "So I always said I was OK with whatever happened regarding the Hall of Fame.
"But when it actually happened, from the moment I got that knock on the door, I knew it was a game-changer in my life."
Lynch made it in his eighth year in the room. And as our Denver voter, Jeff Legwold, always reminds me, "If you get in the room multiple times, your chances get very good."
Good for John.
The voters stuck to that above principal, and a most deserving guy is in the Hall of Fame. Lynch is the first player to be named to the Rings of Fame of his two teams in the same season.
I remember when he first signed with the Broncos as a free agent. He remains the only player we ever signed who gave T-shirts out to the press at his opening press conference.
But the T-shirts were not about John, they were in promotion of his charity. Classy guy.
Sometimes the ultimate goal sought after is not reached, but it does not change the greatness of the pursuit nor the greatness of the pursuer.
That was and is John Lynch, and it reminds me of one of the noblest goals of free agency, of where the Broncos and all the other teams are now.
Let the free agency chase begin, with every team looking to add one or more lynchpins to their roster.
Congrats again, John, on the Hall of Fame.
You have always been a Lynchpin.