The Broncos need safety John Lynch more than he needs football. At age 36, Lynch has never been more essential to a Denver team. What irked Lynch was what had seemed to be a relatively harmless observation during a Denver Post interview by Broncos general manager Ted Sundquist, who suggested that perhaps the team had put too big a leadership burden on a veteran on the back side of his career. Washed up? Worn out? Any hint of the idea made Lynch seethe. Jim Bates might still have his job as Denver's defensive guru if he had only realized a team short on playmakers could ill afford to give the hard-hitting Lynch a supporting role.