Another member of the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV team has died. According to longtime NFL reporter Rick Gosselin of the Talk of Fame network, linebacker Jim Lynch has died at the age of 76.
RIP Jim Lynch, former Notre Dame All-America LB who became a Pro Bowler with KC Chiefs & starter on defense that won Super Bowl IV. Got to know Jim in my years covering the Chiefs in the 1970s. Class act on and off the field. He understood there was more to life than football.— Rick Gosselin (@RickGosselin9) July 21, 2022
The Chiefs selected Lynch from the reigning national champion Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the second round (47th overall) of the 1967 NFL Draft — the first one in which both AFL and NFL teams participated. The two leagues merged in 1970.
“At that time the money in pro sports wasn’t all that great,” Lynch told LimaOhio.com in 2015, “so I knew I had to begin using that Notre Dame education right away and look for a career beyond football. To be honest, I really couldn’t envision playing much more than three or four years of pro ball.”
But Lynch spent 11 years playing professional football — all of it in Kansas City — before retiring after the 1977 season. In all, he appeared in 151 games — starting 142 of them — including a streak of 148 consecutive games. He collected 17 interceptions, 14 fumbles and 18 sacks. (It should be noted, however, that the league didn’t start keeping track of sacks as an official statistic until 1982. Pro Football Reference believes that it has accounted for nearly all sacks from 1970 until then — but the numbers remain unofficial).
The winner of college football’s Maxwell Award during his senior season in South Bend, Lynch was an AFL All-Star in 1968 and was twice named to the second squad of the Associated Press All-AFL team. He was enshrined in Kansas City’s Ring of Honor in 1990 and the Colege Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
Three picks after Lynch was drafted in 1967, the Chiefs selected linebacker Willie Lanier out of Morgan State. The two men had both been collegiate middle linebackers — and Lynch assumed he would be starting there. But the Chiefs had other ideas, starting Lanier in the middle with Lynch on the right and All-AFL linebacker Bobby Bell on the left.
But to Lynch, it didn’t matter. Head coach Hank Stram had decided that Lynch and Lanier would room together. They had quickly become good friends. They remained roommates for the rest of their time with the Chiefs — and close friends for a lifetime.
With Bell, they formed one of the most fearsome second levels ever seen in professional football. Eventually, both Lanier and Bell would be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“I feel so blessed,” Lynch told the hometown paper in 2015, “to have played almost my entire career with two of the greatest ever to play the position.”
But before finishing his NFL career, Lynch had already set up a post-football career path.
“Back when I played, you really couldn’t afford not to look beyond football, so most guys worked another job in the off-season,” he recalled. “Pro careers were short — and the money really wasn’t what it is today. I suppose now, players can’t afford not to make football their 12-month job — but that’s certainly not the way it was in the late ’60s and early ’70s.”
So in 1973, he and Daniel Thomas Hogarty founded D. Thomas and Associates, a food brokerage company specializing in packaging technology. Lynch remained there for the rest of his professional career.