- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 25, 2003

SAN DIEGO It took Ron Lynn 12 seasons and two firings to reach the NFL playoffs for the first time back in 1997 with New England. But in January 2000, Lynn was out of work again despite the Patriots' 28-23 record during his three years as their defensive backs coach.
At 55, Lynn had accepted the downgrade from the coordinator's job he had in San Diego, Cincinnati and Washington. He could have bid the NFL and his Super Bowl dream farewell.
But that wouldn't have been in character for Lynn, who made it from hard-scrabble Youngstown, Ohio, and a nonscholarship playing career at Division III Mount Union College to NFL defensive coordinator at the relatively tender age of 41. And Lynn had overcome much worse, the loss of 15-month-old son Alec to cancer in 1992.
So when Oakland which hadn't been to the playoffs since 1993 asked him to coach its defensive backs under rookie coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, Lynn accepted.
"What happened in New England was more of a surprise than it was in Washington [being fired after the 1996 nosedive from 7-1 to 8-7-1] because we had been winning," said Lynn, who had to watch some of his former pupils help the Patriots beat the Raiders in a controversial divisional round game last January and then win the Super Bowl two weeks later. "I knew I could still make a contribution."
Even if he was no longer making the decisions as he had at his first three NFL stops. And the Raiders, who have made the playoffs during each of Lynn's three years with them, appreciate his efforts.
"I leaned on Ron heavily that first year," Bresnahan said. "He had a wealth of knowledge. He had been through the fire. He's still the most important guy I've got on game day because he's my eyes in the sky. He does an unbelievable job of translating what he sees from the booth down to us on the sidelines so we can make the adjustments."
Lynn's secondary helped Oakland finish 11th in total defense and sixth in scoring defense, though top draft pick Phillip Buchanon was lost for the year with a broken wrist in Week 6 and fellow cornerbacks Charles Woodson and Tory James have missed significant time with broken legs from which they're still not fully recovered.
The Raiders were so thin at cornerback that Clarence Love, who had played in one game the previous three years, started three games. But they persevered, and now Lynn finally has a shot at a title.
"When I finally got out of the locker room last Sunday [after the AFC Championship game victory over Tennessee], my wife had tears in her eyes," Lynn said. "It has been a long, long road to be in a Super Bowl after all these years."

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