The Patriots Hall of Fame Selection Committee met today and for the first time in my recollection, and opinion, there was no slam dunk nominee. There were arguments made for 10 players and one coach. Mine was for Mike Vrabel.
I focused on the more recent players eligible. While there was much support for players like Raymond Clayborn and Leon Gray, I'm not qualified to judge them. When they were playing I wasn't paying attention to the Patriots with the critical eye I do now. I just can't compare them to the more recent players. That left me with four possible candidates: Willie McGinest, Lawyer Milloy, Rodney Harrison and Vrabel.
After 14 NFL seasons, former Patriots LB Mike Vrabel retired from the NFL. Here's a look back at his career in New England, where he won three Super Bowl titles and was a key figure during a championship era.
My knee jerk pick was McGinest. He had longevity, popularity and yes, production. To be fair to the process, though, I decided to not stop there. I dug up the stats on each player's Patriots career and did my best to put those numbers in context. To my mild surprise, the clear choice wound up being Vrabel. Durability, reliability, versatility and the type of playmaking production that directly contributed to the Patriots winning three Super Bowls. His numbers would have been even more impressive had he not had the versatility to move to inside linebacker when the need arose. Check out Vrabel's stats for yourself and you'll be reminded of the impact he had on the team. Oh, and don't forget to check the column under TDs … he had eight.
Vrabel may not have been the most popular player during his tenure but I can't think of an eligible player for the Hall who was a better football player during that time. Harrison and McGinest will get their day, I'm sure, but Vrabel should go first.