With the unprecedented success the Patriots have enjoyed over the last two decades it's no surprise that selecting members for the team's hall of fame has become quite difficult. So many worthy candidates from teams that won a lot of important games are now eligible, and now we know which three emerged as finalists for the Class of 2020.
The committee met April 13 to nominate candidates, and the three receiving the most votes were Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel and Bill Parcells. That left two extremely deserving players – Wes Welker and Logan Mankins – on the outside in their first years of eligibility.
The job was difficult this year but honestly the committee couldn't go wrong with such a strong class to choose from. Ultimately, it's hard to argue with any of the selections as all three have been finalists on multiple occasions in the past.
For Seymour, the five-time Pro Bowler and three-time first-team All-Pro, this makes four nominations in his four years of eligibility. He was part three Super Bowl championship teams and one other AFC conference champ during his eight-year run in New England (2001-08).
In 2009, he was voted to the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team. Seymour has been a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the last two years, and appears poised to become the next Patriot to be enshrined in Canton.
Vrabel has now been a finalist for five straight seasons. He began his Patriots career in 2001 as one of the most productive free agent signings in team history. He also spent eight years in Foxborough (2001-08) and joined Seymour as part of the defense-dominate title-winning teams of the early part of the millennial.
The linebacker's versatility was a huge part of that success as he lined up inside and outside as a pass rusher while also serving as a goal line tight end, catching 10 touchdowns in that role including one each in Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX. He was also voted to the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team as an outside linebacker and the 2000s All-Decade Team.
Parcells is often cited as the man who changed the Patriots fortunes. When he arrived as head coach in 1993 he immediately lent the franchise legitimacy as a two-time Super Bowl winner. Although he spent just four seasons at the helm, he took the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXI, where they dropped a 35-21 decision against Green Bay.
Parcells led New England to the playoffs twice in his four seasons after drafting Drew Bledsoe with the No. 1 overall pick in 1993. In 1994, a season-ending seven-game win streak allowed the Patriots to clinch their first playoff berth in eight years and earned Parcells NFL Coach of the Year honors.
This is the fourth time that Parcells has been a finalist (2011, 2012, 2014 and 2020), and in 2013 he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He is also a member of the Patriots 1990s All-Decade Team and is the only coach in NFL history ever to lead four different teams to the playoffs and three different teams to a conference championship game.
Fans can vote on https://www.patriots.com/hof through May 8, and the team will announce the 2020 Patriots Hall of Fame selection the following week.
This year's inductee will become the 30th person to be enshrined into the Patriots Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony has historically been held on the Enel Plaza outside the Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon. The date and time of this year's ceremony will be announced at a later date.
All are worthy candidates, but my pick remains Seymour. He was the single most dominant force on defenses that carried the Patriots to their first three titles. He played inside and out in both 3-4 and 4-3 looks, showing his versatility and team mentality in keeping with the two-gap philosophies favored by Bill Belichick that stressed discipline and gap control rather than penetration that can lead to gaudy statistics but also some vulnerability up front.
Again, worthy candidates abound but Seymour is head and shoulder above the rest.
Celebrating Richard Seymour's induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a few of our favorite photos from his career with the Patriots.