CANTON, Ohio -- John Lynch used his time on stage at the Pro Football Hall of Fame to share his belief that the lessons from football can be used to help bridge the differences in this country.
"If we are to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves, we must all learn to play together and pull together," said Lynch, who enters his fifth season as 49ers general manager. "Each of us comes from a different walk of life, but when we huddle up, we huddle up as a team.
"Tonight, I advocate that we take the lead of football and huddle up as a people, as a great nation. Let's find a common ground through our shared values. Let's celebrate and learn from our differences."
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Lynch, 49, was enshrined Sunday evening into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the eight-member Class of 2021.
Former Raiders coach Tom Flores, Peyton Manning, Calvin Johnson, Charles Woodson, Alan Faneca, Drew Pearson and former Pittsburgh scout Bill Nunn were also inducted during the ceremony inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium.
Lynch's son, Jake, and Herm Edwards, his defensive backs coach with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, presented Lynch in a video that played prior to Lynch's speech.
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"It takes a lot of belief to get to this stage," Lynch said. "However, belief is not something that simply happens. It has to be nurtured a million times over: a note, a pat on the back, a piece of advice, coaching. These are the thing that foster belief in ourselves. Today, I will recognize those who have done this for me.
"I would not be here today it not for one person, my wife and best friend, Linda Lynch."
Lynch met his future wife in the seventh grade in San Diego. He said his wife wrote him a note before every game that calmed him and got him focused. They have four children: Jake, Lindsay, Lilly and Leah.
Lynch recognized many of his coaches who helped him get to this point, including 49ers legend and Hall of Famer Bill Walsh. He said he would not have been standing on the stage without Walsh.
Walsh showed Lynch about five plays of himself doing something similar to Ronnie Lott. Lynch bought what Walsh was selling and focused on football.
"He saw something in me when it hadn’t even materialized, yet," Lynch said on 49ers Talk.
Lynch spent his first two seasons at Stanford as the backup behind quarterbacks Steve Smith and Jason Palumbis. He just wanted to get on the field, and he convinced then-head coach Dennis Green to move him to safety.
Green left Stanford when he was hired as head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, and Bill Walsh came out of retirement to replace him.
Walsh convinced Lynch to continue with football despite being a top baseball prospect. He was a second-round draft pick as a pitcher of the Florida Marlins in 1992.
He told Lynch, who had barely played half the snaps on defense, that he could be an All-Pro performer.
"It didn’t just stop there," Lynch said. "On draft day, because there were some murmurs that I was trying to leverage the Florida Marlins and I didn’t really want to play football, Bill got on the phone and was calling all the teams."
He spoke to Tampa Bay head coach Sam Wyche. The Buccaneers selected him in the third round of the 1993 draft.
Lynch was with the Denver Broncos in 2007, when Walsh passed away. He took the day off from training camp practice to attend the service at Memorial Church on the Stanford campus.
Lynch reflected on his time with Walsh as the head coach. Keena Turner, who is now vice president & senior advisor to the general manager, played under Walsh with the 49ers and served on his coaching staff at Stanford.
"I said, 'Keena, Bill is such a nice guy,' and he said, 'That’s not what we called him at the Niners,'" Lynch said, laughing.
"About half way through that year when he realized we were good, we saw the tougher Bill Walsh. He just wanted perfection, and he had a great way of leading people to it."