FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced today that Drew Bledsoe has been voted by the fans as the 17th player and 18th member to enter the Patriots Hall of Fame. Since the new process for induction was instituted in 2007, Bledsoe earned the highest percentage of votes for any candidate and becomes the first player to be selected by the fans into the Patriots Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
"Drew Bledsoe played such an integral role in our efforts to rebuild the Patriots brand," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "He gave fans hope for the future and provided many memorable moments during his record-breaking career. I will never forget Drew's record-setting performance in that come-from-behind victory against Minnesota the year I bought the team. It sparked a seven-game win streak and put the Patriots back in the playoffs for the first time in a decade. For a franchise that had only hosted one playoff game in its first 35 years, winning the AFC Championship Game at home in Foxboro and taking the Patriots to the playoffs for three consecutive years were unimaginable goals prior to his arrival."
Bledsoe will join Jon Morris, who was selected to the hall of fame by the senior selection committee, as the 2011 honorees. Bledsoe and Morris will be inducted in a public ceremony outside The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon on Saturday, Sept. 17. The event is free to the public and Patriots fans are encouraged to attend.
Bledsoe was the first overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft and for the next eight years was considered the face of the Patriots franchise. During his nine-year Patriots career, he broke the Patriots' career passing records for attempts (4,518), completions (2,544) and yards (29,657). Bledsoe still holds the Patriots' single-season passing records for attempts (691) and completions (400) and is the only player in franchise history to pass for over 400 yards multiple times (4). He still holds the NFL record for attempts in a season (691 in 1994) and both attempts (70) and completions (45) in a game against Minnesota in 1994 that sparked a seven-game win streak, propelling the Patriots to their first playoff berth in eight years. Bledsoe led the Patriots to the playoffs four times in his first six seasons, helping the team earn back-to-back division titles and three consecutive playoff berths for the first time in franchise history. In 1996, he guided the Patriots to their second AFC Championship in franchise history and a trip to Super Bowl XXXI. Bledsoe is the only quarterback in NFL history with four seasons of at least 600 pass attempts, including three straight from 1994-96 with the Patriots.
Beginning in 2007, the Patriots started a new hall of fame tradition, inducting one player or head coach into the team's hall of fame each year. The process for induction involves a panel of media, alumni and staff who collectively nominate the players and/or head coaches who have been out of football for at least four years who are most deserving of induction. After the nominations are made, the committee votes and the top three tallies become that year's finalists. The Patriots then give their fans the opportunity to vote online to select each year's hall of fame honoree.
Last month, a 21-person nomination committee met at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon to discuss this year's candidates for induction. Those votes were tallied and the three finalists were Houston Antwine, Bledsoe and Bill Parcells.
Senior Selection Committee
The Patriots formed a senior selection committee to ensure that early era players are not overlooked in the voting process. This year's committee consisted of 10 veteran media and staff members who gathered to discuss candidates who have been retired for at least 25 years to identify the player most deserving of Patriots Hall of Fame recognition.
About the Patriots Hall of Fame
The Patriots Hall of Fame was officially formed in 1991 after John Hannah became the first Patriots player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With the hall of fame, the Patriots created a new way of honoring their greatest players. But it wasn't until 2008, with the opening of The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon, that Patriots players, past and present, truly had a place to call home that they could share with their family, friends and fans. Enshrinement into The Hall is now an honor befitting of the franchise's greatest players, with 30-foot video pylons displaying each enshrinee. Beginning in 2007, fans became part of the hall of fame tradition and active participants in the selection process. The Patriots are the only NFL team that allow their fans an opportunity to select the team's hall of famers. In the first year of the new hall of fame voting process, a nomination committee presented Ron Burton, Ben Coates and Stanley Morgan as finalists. That year, the fans selected Morgan for induction and have since added Coates (2008), Jim Nance (2009) and Sam "Bam" Cunningham (2010). In 2009, the Kraft family also selected Patriots founder Billy Sullivan as the first non-player to be inducted into the hall of fame as a contributor. This year, a senior selection committee was formed and selected three-time hall of fame finalist Jon Morris for induction.
The complete list of Patriots Hall of Famers is listed below:
John Hannah (1991)
Nick Buoniconti (1992)
Gino Cappelletti (1992)
Bob Dee (1993)
Jim Lee Hunt (1993)
Steve Nelson (1993)
Vito "Babe" Parilli (1993)
Mike Haynes (1994)
Steve Grogan (1995)
Andre Tippett (1999)
Bruce Armstrong (2001)
Stanley Morgan (2007)
Ben Coates (2008)
Jim Nance (2009)
Sam Cunningham (2010)
Jon Morris (2011)
Drew Bledsoe (2011)
William "Billy" Sullivan (2009)
About The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon
The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon is the crown jewel of Patriot Place and the only sports and education experience of its kind. Through a dazzling array of interactive multi-media exhibits and artifacts never before viewable by the public, The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon showcases the tradition of the New England Patriots, explores the history of football in New England, and promotes math and science education for the thousands of schoolchildren who visit each year. For more information, please visit www.thehallatpatriotplace.com.