On Wednesday afternoon the 22 members of the Patriots Hall of Fame committee will convene in an effort to find the three most deserving candidates to serve as this year's nominees. While it's always a somewhat difficult task to parse through the many worthy players and coaches, the process is getting trickier by the year.
The main reason for that is the arrival of players who enjoyed unparalleled success during the Bill Belichick era. That began last season when Willie McGinest won the fan vote to become the latest member of the Hall, defeating a pair of 1970s-era Patriots Leon Gray and Raymond Clayborn in the process. It's a scenario that is likely to play out often over the coming years.
The Patriots franchise was not very successful over its first 40-plus years until Belichick arrived and deep playoff runs and Super Bowl trips became annual expectations. That kind of success obviously breeds a lot of memorable moments and many of the individuals responsible for those four Super Bowl titles and nearly two dozen postseason wins are starting to become eligible for the Hall.
Like McGinest last year, it's hard to imagine these iconic figures being denied their red jackets. This year's list of first-time eligible players includes running back Kevin Faulk and left tackle Matt Light. Linebacker Mike Vrabel and safety Rodney Harrison jumped into the mix for the first time last year and generated plenty of discussion among the panel before ultimately not making the final cut.
Soon stars like Richard Seymour and Randy Moss will enter the fray, both set to become eligible in 2017. As these "modern era" standouts arrive, the idea of seeing a Clayborn, Gray or Fred Marion, who has also been nominated in the past, earn the call seems far-fetched.
It's obviously a nice "problem" to have since the sudden influx of worthy candidates is due to the team's overwhelming success on the field. But at the same time it's tough to watch equally talented players continue to get snubbed as they move further and further away from the fans' consciousness.
There is no easy solution, and the senior selection committee should take care of any missteps created along the way, but that doesn't make the job any easier.
Wednesday should be an interesting afternoon in Foxborough, and the discussions figure to be lively as usual.