“I’m okay, I’m okay,” John Lynch insisted as he sat on the bench during the fourth quarter Monday night, a small armada of medical personnel standing within two feet of his face after he absorbed a helmet-rattling shot from Baltimore’s Keydrick Vincent.
He was okay, as it turned out. A Tuesday MRI revealed no damage to his neck, and he practiced Wednesday. He did land on the injury report, but is listed as “probable.”
But on Monday night, he was a little out of sorts. Not because of the hit — which brought a gasp to everyone in the stadium and among Broncos fans in the television audience who were aware of the neck problems that hindered Lynch in his final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and helped lead to their decision to release him in March 2004.
No, something was missing as he sat on the bench.
“I was looking for my helmet,” Lynch said. “They were hiding it from me.”
The game would conclude with Sam Brandon handling Lynch’s free-safety duties, and Tuesday would dawn with some medical tests — not because of any lingering worry, but just to be certain.
“It was a precautionary measure,” Lynch said. “Greek (Head Athletic Trainer Steve Antonopulos) and the doctors wanted me to take an MRI, and I did, and it looked exactly like the one that I came here with a couple of years ago.”
The same MRI that showed no lingering problems after Lynch’s troublesome 2003. The same MRI that showed Lynch’s neck was healed enough for him to continue his career, and return to the Pro Bowl stratosphere he reached with the Bucs.
“I’m feeling good,” Lynch said, “and I feel blessed to feel like that.”
So good, in fact, that as Lynch jumped off the damp grass and jogged off the field Monday, he wasn’t thinking about the stinger or any residual effects, but on those who watched the play and its aftermath unfold.
“It’s kind of funny (regarding) my thoughts on the ground,” Lynch said. “No. 1, your kids are at the game and you never want to let your kids see you on the ground like that so I’m trying to get up and the doctors are telling me, ‘Just take your time,’ and No. 2, my dad, as a kid, he was always my Pop Warner coach and he told me if I ever stayed on the ground that I’d hurt worse when we got home.
“So here I am, 35 years old, worrying about my dad, but I knew I was all right pretty soon.”