FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The Patriots have announced that 2011 Hall of Fame inductees Drew Bledsoe and Jon Morris will be honored in a ceremony outside The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17.
The event, which takes place the day before the Patriots 2011 regular season home opener versus the San Diego Chargers, is free and open to the public. Bledsoe and Morris will receive their red Patriots Hall of Fame blazers and their Hall of Fame trophies. They will also have the opportunity to speak to their fans, who will gather on Patriot Place Plaza for the ceremony. Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert Kraft as well as other Patriots Hall of Fame members and alumni will be among the dignitaries in attendance. Patriots fans are encouraged to attend.
Bledsoe was 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.
"Obviously this is a tremendous honor, to be elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame," said Bledsoe. "Honestly, [it was] a little more emotional than I thought it would have been. Just to be considered in the company of [fellow nominees] Bill Parcells and Houston Antwine was a great honor in and of itself. And then to be elected to the hall of fame was really a tremendous honor. I'm really looking forward to getting back there in September and [it is] obviously a great honor. It means a lot to me and a lot to my family."
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.
Morris was selected to the hall of fame by a 10-person senior selection committee. The selection was made on Friday, March 25 and affirmed with a phone call from Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft later that afternoon.
"It was overwhelming," said Morris of his reaction to the call from Kraft. "I thought my days were numbered. This announcement came as a complete surprise. I consider this the crowning achievement of my football life and I am so thankful to the Kraft family and the selection committee for allowing me to experience this feeling."
Morris played 11 seasons for the Patriots, appearing in 130 games from 1964-74. He earned seven consecutive All-Star appearances with six AFL-All Star games (1964 through 1969) and was an AFC Pro Bowl center in 1970. His seven league All-Star selections rank second in Patriots history behind Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah (9). Morris was the first Patriots player to be selected to the NFL Pro Bowl. Morris anchored an offensive line that opened holes for Jim Nance to amass a team-record 45 rushing touchdowns from 1965-71. He was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 1964 American Football League Draft out of Holy Cross. He was also selected in the second round by Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, but he knew Boston Patriots head coach Mike Holovak and chose to stay in New England to pursue his professional football career. After his playing career, Morris worked as the color commentator on Patriots radio broadcasts from 1979 to 1987, followed by color analysis of NFL games for NBC television. Morris also played for Detroit (1975-77) and Chicago (1978).
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 allows 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 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.