New England Patriots Hall of Fame

lexrageorge

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With the recent bypassing of Seymour for the Pro Football HoF, and the fact we are now in the quiet part of the offseason, I decided to start a thread on the New England Patriots Hall of Fame (sponsored by Raytheon, of course). Anyway, I was going through the 3 "Brady careers" and trying to decipher the best candidates from each era. Note that only one player/coach can be selected each year:

First dynasty. This group is already well represented in the Pats Hall with Bledsoe, Troy Brown, McGinest, Seymour, Bruschi, Law, Light, and Faulk. So had to figure out who's left:

Adam Vinatieri: Probably should be elected the minute he is eligible (has 3 more years to wait, I believe).
Deion Branch: The lack of Pro-Bowl appearances hurts him. But he was not only Brady's first "go to" deep threat, he was also Super Bowl MVP and had a nice 2nd act here as well.
Mike Vrabel: 3 Super Bowls, one All-Pro, and 10 regular season and 2 playoff TD catches. Biggest issue is that the D from that era already has a lot of inductees.
Joe Andruzzi: The darkest of dark horses from this era, but the OL was really good, and Andruzzi was one of the rocks.
Asante Samuel: He won his rings with this group as a nickel corner, but was an All-Pro shutdown corner by the time he left after the 2007 season. His departure for the Eagles during his prime years hurts him; had he caught that interception and stayed in bounds, he likely gets serious consideration. The biggest obstacle is purely the number of deserving candidates in the subsequent eras.
Ted Johnson: Was a rock on the inside for 4 Super Bowl teams for Parcells and BB. Has zero chance of getting in; just giving him an honorable mention here.

The "middle years". Players from this era have only just started to become eligible. But there are some players here that shouldn't be overlooked:

Wes Welker: Led the league in receptions 3 times, 5 Pro Bowls, and 2 All-Pro teams during his time here. Some will hold his dropped pass against him, but he was in the conversation for MVP with 103 yards in the Game that Must Not be Named.
Vince Wilfork: Won his rings with the first and third groups, but his Pro Bowls, All Pro selection, and the bulk of his highlights and flattened QB's were in this era. Should be in the NFL HoF. His name is probably next to be called to Foxboro.
Logan Mankins: The best OL of the Brady/Belichick dynasty to not win a Super Bowl. Got schooled in two Super Bowls, but was also hampered by injury in both. 6 Pro Bowls, 1 All Pro. Started as Matt Light's partner and ended as Solder's. Should also be a no-brainer.
Randy Moss: Hall of Famer, but mostly for his Vikings career. Was only here for 3 seasons plus 4 games. Broke records in 2007, but then got caught up in some bizarre domestic incident just prior to the start of the playoffs. Probably a shoo-in had the Asante caught that INT. But the 3 above him on this list are more deserving, and the backlog of candidates will only grow real soon.
Jerod Mayo: Short career (8 years) that mostly spanned the middle years, and was mostly hurt towards the end. Probably in the Honorable Mention category, but needed to note his 2 Pro Bowls, one All-Pro, and 1 Super Bowl title.

The 2nd dynasty. There will be some tough omissions here for sure.

Gronk: 'Nuff sed.
Edelman: Ditto.
Gostkowski: The first "controversial" pick of this era. With 4 Pro Bowls and 2 All Pro nominations to go with his 3 rings, he would normally be a "no brainer". He made some big kicks, but also some notable misses, and lacks the signature kick that cemented Adam's place. I would still put him in, but the backlog is a real problem.
Hightower: Was the defensive mainstay of this era, and his absence always seemed most keenly felt (not just in 2020).
D. McCourty: Another mainstay of the D from this era. Biggest issue is only 2 Pro Bowls as a safety, but the 2nd most deserving defender of this era, IMO.
Nate Solder: Worthy successor to Matt Light, but lacks the individual accolades, despite his role in keeping the QB upright during his 7 years here. The OL really suffered when he got hurt in 2015.
Rob Ninkovich: Probably in the "not a chance" category, but his 46 sacks in 8 seasons here deserve a mention along with his 2 rings.
Malcolm Butler: His short stint and mysterious benching cloud his legacy, and he never seemed to recapture the magic of his one Pro Bowl season as a full time starter. But his signature play ranks up there with The Goal and The Stolen Base.
Matt Slater: Thanks everyone below that reminded me.

That's 20 years of backlog (19 players plus one obvious candidate that I did not name), and that's not including coaches (Parcells) or guys from the current team that may yet emerge. I'm sure there's also a couple of borderline cases that I've forgotten. Anyway, ranking them, I come up with the following:

Slam Dunk inductees:

Gronk
Edelman
Wilfork
A certain QB that will have his own wing
Vinatieri
Matt Slater

Deserving candidates that should get in, but the timing is uncertain due to the backlog:

Welker
Mankins
Hightower
McCourty

Borderline, and may never get in due to the huge backlog:

Vrabel
Moss
Ninkovich
Branch
Ghost

Probably will get free admission for life, but otherwise will need to remain a visitor:

Andruzzi
Samuel
Ted Johnson
Butler
Mayo
Solder
 
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88 MVP

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Matt Slater.
Is there a published selection criteria? Given how much emphasis BB placed on special teams throughout the entire run, I think Slater (3x Super Bowls, 7x All Pro, 9x Pro Bowl) should be a lock. Larry Izzo (3 Super Bowls, 1x All Pro, 3x Pro Bowl), the special teams "ace" of the first dynasty, also probably merits consideration.
 

Ferm Sheller

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Not sure whether there are any guidelines, but Slater's been a captain for 10 years, 5X All-Pro, 9X Pro-Bowler (including 7 in a row, which is an NFL record), a leader on and off the field. He's a lock.
 

Ferm Sheller

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I'd also be willing to bet -- and I'll look into this later -- that Slater's played more games for the Pats since 2000 than anyone other than Brady.

EDIT: Oh, likely Ghost is ahead of him.

EDIT: Yeah, Ghost has 204 games played for the Pats, whereas Slater stands at 189 (which means of course that Slater could pass Ghost if he plays a full season next year).
 
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8slim

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Is there a reason why the Pats HOF criteria of 1 inductee/year is so restrictive? Seems to needlessly create the backlog you mentioned. I like that there are standards -- the Sox HOF is too permissive, IMHO, when players like Marty Barrett and Ellis Burks are in it. But making guys like Vrable, Nink and Branch be "borderline" seems crazy to me. To me, those guys are absolutely the type who should breeze into a team HOF.
 

Nator

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I think Gostkowski is a no-brainer. He did tail off in a hurry towards end of his time in New England. but even with that he was 71% on kicks from 50+ and 77% on kicks from 40-49 yards from 2006 through his truncated 2019. His extra point streak is an NFL record that will never be broken now that they moved the PAT back 10 yards (yes, he did miss a rather large one in the 2015 AFCCG). He came onto this team following an absolute legend, and he was nothing but consistent and reliable. Does he have a signature kick? Not really. But how many times were the Patriots just hanging on by 4 and he would he come in an push it back out to 7 in the 4th quarter? How many times would he steal 3 points before the end of the half? Once the Patriots got it to the 35 yard line, it always seem plausible that Gost would hit it.

One thing that defined this team was the stability and greatness at QB over 20 seasons. But the stability and greatness at kicker were also very important with only 2 players manning that position over the same span.. You never had to worry about Brady, and you never really had to worry about the placekicking either.

He was also 39-44 on field goals for his postseason New England career, a robust 88%.

Stats from Pro-Football Reference.
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/G/GostSt20.htm
 

lexrageorge

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Is there a reason why the Pats HOF criteria of 1 inductee/year is so restrictive? Seems to needlessly create the backlog you mentioned. I like that there are standards -- the Sox HOF is too permissive, IMHO, when players like Marty Barrett and Ellis Burks are in it. But making guys like Vrable, Nink and Branch be "borderline" seems crazy to me. To me, those guys are absolutely the type who should breeze into a team HOF.
To be fair, I don't think the team had 6 Lombardi's when they instituted the HoF. So I think the 1/year was done as a way to get people excited about it. The exclusivity makes it feel like a true honor, and provides an incentive for the inductee to come back and spend a weekend in Foxboro and get fitted for a jacket. And it helps generate fan interest, which, in turn, gets people to pay the price of admission to enter the museum.

I agree that they could make a periodic exception to the rule. They already did once to honor some of the early players like Jon Morris. I really do feel it would be good to Branch and Vrabel in before the next wave becomes eligible. Wilfork is likely the next one to get in (I think this is his first or 2nd year of eligibility), and then we really start seeing a flood. And there's still may be some players from the 70's, 80's, and 90's teams that have been overlooked (Vincent Brown maybe, Ronnie Lippett, Bill Lenkaitis come to mind).
 

Mooch

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Koppen should be somewhere in the discussion as well. He was a mainstay in the middle of that offensive line for three Super Bowl trips and two titles. I've always considered him the most underrated offensive lineman in Pats history.
 

Hoya81

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I can see James White getting serious consideration as part of the second group. Great playoff performances (holds the record for most receptions in a playoff game) and steady contributions on in the air and on the ground. Strong argument that he should have been the LI MVP.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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Koppen should be somewhere in the discussion as well. He was a mainstay in the middle of that offensive line for three Super Bowl trips and two titles. I've always considered him the most underrated offensive lineman in Pats history.
And he'll supply the beers for the weekend from his brewery.

I think instituting dual inductees in addition to the "senior" selection is the way to go at least for the near future. Even a tricameral situation where you take one inductee from the 4-14 years retired list (for now this becomes the first or second-ballot inductee more often than not until we get some distance from the dynasty), 15-25 years retired list (Mike Vrabel and Deion Branch all-stars), then the 25+ senior list (long-tenured guys and those like Butler who had great moments without a long Pats career).
 

Euclis20

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I think Gostkowski is a no-brainer. He did tail off in a hurry towards end of his time in New England. but even with that he was 71% on kicks from 50+ and 77% on kicks from 40-49 yards from 2006 through his truncated 2019. His extra point streak is an NFL record that will never be broken now that they moved the PAT back 10 yards (yes, he did miss a rather large one in the 2015 AFCCG). He came onto this team following an absolute legend, and he was nothing but consistent and reliable. Does he have a signature kick? Not really. But how many times were the Patriots just hanging on by 4 and he would he come in an push it back out to 7 in the 4th quarter? How many times would he steal 3 points before the end of the half? Once the Patriots got it to the 35 yard line, it always seem plausible that Gost would hit it.

One thing that defined this team was the stability and greatness at QB over 20 seasons. But the stability and greatness at kicker were also very important with only 2 players manning that position over the same span.. You never had to worry about Brady, and you never really had to worry about the placekicking either.

He was also 39-44 on field goals for his postseason New England career, a robust 88%.

Stats from Pro-Football Reference.
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/G/GostSt20.htm
Building on this, the only reason Gostkowski isn't a lock is because Vinatieri came before him and the comparison isn't great for him. These are the two most successful kickers in postseason history, they are 1 and 2 in both playoff FGs (Vinatieri leads) and playoff extra points (Gostkowski leads). Of all the remarkable Patriot facts over the last 20-25 years, this is one that doesn't get talked about enough.
 

lexrageorge

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Bumping this thread with the Edelman retirement announcement. Players are eligible for induction once they are 4 years removed from their playing careers, so I just wanted to match up the candidates above with their dates of eligibility:

Currently eligible and on prior finalist ballots: Mike Vrabel, Ron Burton, Fred Marion, Bill Parcells, and Chuck Fairbanks.

Currently eligible: Wilfork, Wes Welker, Mankins, Randy Moss, Ninkovich, Branch, Andruzzi, Asante Samuel, Ted Johnson, Mayo, Milloy

Future eligibles: Vinatieri (2024), Edelman (2025)

Still active: Gronk, Slater, TB12, Hightower, McCourty, Gostkowski, Malcolm Butler, Gilmore, Solder (maybe)

Looking ahead, my best guess for future inductees:

2021: Vrabel. Has been on the ballot 5 times already (losing out to Faulk, Clayborn, Light, Harrison and Seymour). If not 2021, probably 2022.

2022: Wilfork. Could get in 2021, which would be his first year of eligibility.

2023: This one is fairly open. My personal vote among the eligible players would be Deion Branch, but this could be Parcells best chance, as the Tuna has been on the final ballot 4 times already. This would actually be a good year to get some older players such as Julius Adams in via the senior selection process.

2024: Adam Vinatieri should be a first-ballot inductee.

2025: No reason for Edelman not to be a first-ballot inductee.

And the backlog will continue through 2026 and beyond as the actives retire during the intervening period.
 

Caspir

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They need to get rid of the one per year rule because as the dynasty ages, there are too many players worth inducting, never mind Dante, BB, Ernie and the other coaching staff that deserve recognition. Personally, I don’t care about exclusivity for team HOF inductions since they’re really just a way for the fan base to relive different eras. Become the Celtics and induct everybody. Matt Cassel? In! Sammy Morris? Fuck yea! Jabar Gaffney? Come on down!

I’m being facetious to a point, but for me, more is better.
 

BaseballJones

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On the current team, the guys I can see making the Pats' HOF:

- DMac
- Chung
- Hightower
- Slater
- Andrews
- Mason (?) maybe?

That's it right now. Only McCourty, Hightower, and Slater are locks, IMO.
 

Scott Cooper's Grand Slam

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They need to get rid of the one per year rule because as the dynasty ages, there are too many players worth inducting, never mind Dante, BB, Ernie and the other coaching staff that deserve recognition. Personally, I don’t care about exclusivity for team HOF inductions since they’re really just a way for the fan base to relive different eras. Become the Celtics and induct everybody. Matt Cassel? In! Sammy Morris? Fuck yea! Jabar Gaffney? Come on down!

I’m being facetious to a point, but for me, more is better.
This is where I am. The Patriots popularized Super Bowl teams taking the field as a unit. I’d like to see them consider inducting entire memorable rosters. Start with each championship team, and I’d include 2007 to celebrate Randy Moss and so that a new generation can learn what Michael Strahan did before TV.
 

jmcc5400

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Bumping this thread with the Edelman retirement announcement. Players are eligible for induction once they are 4 years removed from their playing careers, so I just wanted to match up the candidates above with their dates of eligibility:

Currently eligible and on prior finalist ballots: Mike Vrabel, Ron Burton, Fred Marion, Bill Parcells, and Chuck Fairbanks. . .
I'm sure the University of Colorado has a nice Hall of Fame.
 

lexrageorge

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On the current team, the guys I can see making the Pats' HOF:

- DMac
- Chung
- Hightower
- Slater
- Andrews
- Mason (?) maybe?

That's it right now. Only McCourty, Hightower, and Slater are locks, IMO.
It's likely that 2021 season will be the last year for at least one of Devin, Donta, and Matthew. So starting in 2026 you will have a new string of eligible players worthy of relatively early induction. And that doesn't include the QB and TE from Tampa, or the Titans placekicker. Illustrates why the 1 player/year rule is going to cause quite a logjam in a few years, worse than the one we already have.

Which means that unless the Pats HoF relaxes their rules a bit (up to 2/yr perhaps?), there will be players like Chung, Andrews, Branch, Mankins, Solder, and Ghost that are really facing a huge uphill battle.

EDIT: And, yes, James White.
 
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Maximus

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They need to get rid of the one per year rule because as the dynasty ages, there are too many players worth inducting, never mind Dante, BB, Ernie and the other coaching staff that deserve recognition. Personally, I don’t care about exclusivity for team HOF inductions since they’re really just a way for the fan base to relive different eras. Become the Celtics and induct everybody. Matt Cassel? In! Sammy Morris? Fuck yea! Jabar Gaffney? Come on down!

I’m being facetious to a point, but for me, more is better.
They definitely need to get rid of the one per year rule that has been ridiculous for many years now.
 

NortheasternPJ

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They need to get rid of the one per year rule because as the dynasty ages, there are too many players worth inducting, never mind Dante, BB, Ernie and the other coaching staff that deserve recognition. Personally, I don’t care about exclusivity for team HOF inductions since they’re really just a way for the fan base to relive different eras. Become the Celtics and induct everybody. Matt Cassel? In! Sammy Morris? Fuck yea! Jabar Gaffney? Come on down!

I’m being facetious to a point, but for me, more is better.
No one even knows what Ernie Adams does and we’re supposed to put him in the HOF for the fans?
 

Caspir

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No one even knows what Ernie Adams does and we’re supposed to put him in the HOF for the fans?
As I said, I wasn’t being serious with many of the names, but I literally do not care at all what he does. If they want to put his Pink Stripes board in the HOF along with him I’m fine with it. People who take team Hall of Fames seriously miss the point. If you don’t care about Ernie Adams then go try the FG simulator again, but the sanctity of the Raytheon Patriots Hall of Fame is secure either way.
 

BaseballJones

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James White will 1000% be in the Patriots HOF.
Just for fun, here are his playoff numbers:

12 games
36 rush att, 146 rush yds, 4.1 avg, 5 td
59 rec, 506 rec yds, 8.6 y/c, 3 td
95 touches, 652 yards, 6.9 yds/touch, 8 td

Avg game: 7.9 touches, 54.3 yds, 6.9 yds/touch, 0.7 td

Not bad for a "third down" back.
 

tims4wins

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Am I crazy for thinking Chung belongs? He was a very valuable contributor.
The thing that will hold Chung back, at least amongst the fans, is the lack of any signature plays / moments. Like I can’t think of a single big play in a playoff game.
 

BaseballJones

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Aside from Brady, who were the most important players to the Pats during their two mini-dynasties (2001-2004 and 2014-2018)?

Candidates (IMO):

2001-2004
- Richard Seymour
- Troy Brown
- Adam Vinatieri
- Willie McGinest
- Rodney Harrison
- Ty Law
- Tedy Bruschi
- Mike Vrabel

2014-2018
- Rob Gronkowski
- Julian Edelman
- Dont'a Hightower
- Devin McCourty
- Danny Amendola

Who am I missing?
 

tims4wins

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And Amendola played for the Dolphins in 2018. So I didn't realize they needed to play every single season of the noted years to make his list.
Guess it’s personal taste. Like as much as I love Rodney Harrison I could never argue that he was more important from 2001-2004 than Law, Vrabel, Bruschi, Willie, Seymour, etc.
 

lexrageorge

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Aside from Brady, who were the most important players to the Pats during their two mini-dynasties (2001-2004 and 2014-2018)?

Candidates (IMO):

2001-2004
- Richard Seymour
- Troy Brown
- Adam Vinatieri
- Willie McGinest
- Rodney Harrison
- Ty Law
- Tedy Bruschi
- Mike Vrabel

2014-2018
- Rob Gronkowski
- Julian Edelman
- Dont'a Hightower
- Devin McCourty
- Danny Amendola

Who am I missing?
I'm with @MuppetAsteriskTalk that Faulk and Light deserve to be on the first list. All of the players on the first list are in the HoF (including Faulk and Light), with the exception of Vinatieri (who's not yet eligible) and Vrabel, who really should get in this year or next.

Also, I will still argue for Deion Branch being a fairly key piece of 2 Super Bowl teams.

I would add Gostkowski to the 2nd list; and Malcolm Butler ;)
 

bsj

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Agree with going away the one a year rule. I'd change it to a hybrid system where everyone gets, say, 5 votes, top vote getter gets in, and up to 3 get in as well if they are on X % of ballots (whatever number that is).

So In a loaded year with 3 standouts, we can get 3 in. But in a thin year, we revert to the normal 1.
 
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Guess it’s personal taste. Like as much as I love Rodney Harrison I could never argue that he was more important from 2001-2004 than Law, Vrabel, Bruschi, Willie, Seymour, etc.
I wasn't suggesting they should replace anybody on his list - just that they should be added to it. It didn't seem like his lists had a fixed size, as evidenced by the different number of players included in each list to start.
 

bsj

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Aside from Brady, who were the most important players to the Pats during their two mini-dynasties (2001-2004 and 2014-2018)?

Candidates (IMO):

2001-2004
- Richard Seymour
- Troy Brown
- Adam Vinatieri
- Willie McGinest
- Rodney Harrison
- Ty Law
- Tedy Bruschi
- Mike Vrabel

2014-2018
- Rob Gronkowski
- Julian Edelman
- Dont'a Hightower
- Devin McCourty
- Danny Amendola

Who am I missing?
Honorable mention to Lawyer Milloy for the first phase...he really was one of the few that bridged the gap between the Parcells Super Bowl run team and the Belichick Super Bowl winning team
 

scottyno

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I don't think Butler is even close to being a Pats HOFer. Only played 4 years, only started 3 years, and his last year he was pretty terrible. So basically his entire resume is the seahawks super bowl and 2 good years.

He's not even in at least the top 3 secondary members not in yet, not to mention any other positions.
 

lexrageorge

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I don't think Butler is even close to being a Pats HOFer. Only played 4 years, only started 3 years, and his last year he was pretty terrible. So basically his entire resume is the seahawks super bowl and 2 good years.

He's not even in at least the top 3 secondary members not in yet, not to mention any other positions.
No disagreement; I have Butler in my "deserving of free admission and a beer" category. He would be #1 in the Hall of Honorable Mentions, however.
 

tims4wins

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Forgive the diversion, but is the "Butler was trash in 2017" narrative a case of revisionist history? Granted, he was better to my untrained eye in 2015 and 2016, but he still played like 97% of the snaps in 2017. Overall the D had a lot of issues in the first quarter of the season before righting the ship. Anyone have his stats for 2017 vs. 2016 and 2015 - things like completion %, rating, yards / target, etc.?
 

simplyeric

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Is there a ‘Hall of Individual Plays Fame’?
Like, certain individual plays, or even sequences or whatever, should be commemorated, both at Foxboro and at the NFL hall.
like, sure, Butler isn’t even close to a HoF guy. But that one play...And not just super-bowl plays, but in-season stuff too.
I’m not really into HoF stuff, but I’d be more likely to go to The Hall of Superlative Plays while other folks are looking at retired jersey numbers or what have you.
 

Saints Rest

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Is there a ‘Hall of Individual Plays Fame’?
Like, certain individual plays, or even sequences or whatever, should be commemorated, both at Foxboro and at the NFL hall.
like, sure, Butler isn’t even close to a HoF guy. But that one play...And not just super-bowl plays, but in-season stuff too.
I’m not really into HoF stuff, but I’d be more likely to go to The Hall of Superlative Plays while other folks are looking at retired jersey numbers or what have you.
The inaugural member would be Dave Roberts.

I echo the sentiments that the 1 per year rule is arbitrary and counter-productive through these unprecedented times.

To the OP's slam-dunk list, I would elevate Vrabel, Mankins, and DMac.

Then the borderline list would be:
  • Welker
  • Nink
  • Ghost
  • Hightower
  • Koppen
  • Solder
  • White (whose candidacy would be improved over the life of this next contract if he can find a QB who can make a swing pass or dump-off)
The borderline list could be expanded for some of the guys still rostered now:
  • Gilmore
  • Mason
  • Andrews
 

tims4wins

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I can't agree that Hightower is anywhere close to borderline. He is a surefire slam dunk. This will be his 9th season. Extremely high level of play. Huge plays in huge moments. 3X champ. You have to remember that ultimately, the fans vote for this one it is narrowed to 3 choices. There is no chance the fans vote in someone like Mankins over DH.
 

simplyeric

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The inaugural member would be Dave Roberts.

I echo the sentiments that the 1 per year rule is arbitrary and counter-productive through these unprecedented times.

To the OP's slam-dunk list, I would elevate Vrabel, Mankins, and DMac.

Then the borderline list would be:
  • Welker
  • Nink
  • Ghost
  • Hightower
  • Koppen
  • Solder
  • White (whose candidacy would be improved over the life of this next contract if he can find a QB who can make a swing pass or dump-off)
The borderline list could be expanded for some of the guys still rostered now:
  • Gilmore
  • Mason
  • Andrews
Havlicheck stole the ball.

edit: speaking of...there should also be a "Call of Fame", where different broadcasting calls (radio, TV, print, etc.) could be commemorated. Johnny Most would have a few. But I also think "show ponies and unicorns" would be in there.
And "stabbed by folk" might be, but only because of what it was commenting on, which is different than "that call was amazing".
 
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