FOXBORO — Getting a chance to take part in the nomination process for the Patriots Hall of Fame is one of the great perks of my job. Along with some local writers and organizational staff, as well as retired reporters, broadcasters and alumni, it’s a terrific experience. Every year, there’s great discussion about the history of the team and the merits of those under consideration for the honor. From this viewpoint, I always end up learning something new.
After the nomination process, we vote on three finalists — the first choice gets five points, second choice gets three points and third choice gets one point. The votes are tabulated, and the three finalists will be announced April 15. Fans will then have a month to vote on Patriots.com, and one will be announced as this year’s inductee.
After some really engaging back-and-forth between committee members that lasted almost almost two hours — and included a healthy debate over a variety of players and coaches, including Raymond Clayborn, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Leon Gray, Rodney Harrison, Chuck Fairbanks and Raymond Berry — I decided to cast my votes were cast for Law, Harrison and Bill Parcells.
Law: The cornerback hit most of my requirements — he was not only considered one of the best cornerbacks of his era, he played a major role in helping win three Super Bowl championships. An elite level player in his first year of eligibility, despite the fact that there were a few others who have been on the ballot a longer time, he was a no-brainer in my opinion. (From this viewpoint, he’ll likely be the fan favorite to be the one who will be fitted for a red jacket come this summer.) A two-time All-Pro, Law ended his career in New England with 36 picks in 10 seasons.
Harrison: In Harrison’s second year of eligibility, I’m proud to say I was the one who entered his name into consideration. He didn’t have the lengthy career with the Patriots that some of the other players under consideration — in truth, you could identify him just as much as a member of the Chargers as you could as a member of the Patriots — but he had so many signature moments while in Foxboro. His work on and off the field as a key point in the history of the franchise cannot be overlooked, as he helped guide the secondary through the post-Lawyer Milloy era. A two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time All-Pro, he was one of New England’s most important defensive players over the last decade.
Parcells: A finalist in 2011 and 2012, a past look at my votes reveals that I’ve been fairly consistent when it comes to Parcells and the Hall. He was a transformative presence for the franchise, one of a handful of people who restored a sense of relevancy to the Patriots. Once again, we were reminded that his departure from Foxboro was less than ideal, but you can’t argue that he played a key role in reviving New England and helping create a winning culture that has endured for the better part of the last 20 years. Besides, if he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he should be acknowledged accordingly in Foxboro.