Yesterday, the Patriots announced three finalists for the 2014 Hall of Fame class. As of 2007, the Patriots started a new tradition by inducting one head coach or one player to the hall each year. A 20 person committee votes on the finalists, and then fans have the opportunity to vote online until May 15th by clicking here. The previous three selections were Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown and Drew Bledsoe, so this year’s pick will likely be another fan favorite. Today, cover32 looks back on the careers and impact on the Patriots organization from this year’s candidates.
Bill Parcells, Head Coach (1993-1996)
The NFL legend joined the Patriots after an NFL worst 2-14 season by the Patriots in 1992. With two rings to his name, Parcells instantly turned the team around, leading them to the playoffs in 1994 and 1996. He won NFL coach of the year for the 1994 season, when the Patriots finished the season 7-0 to make the playoffs. The Patriots made it to only their second Super Bowl in 1996, and Parcells’ pedigree and coaching style would translate directly to the Bradichick era. It was Parcell’s retirement from the Jets that promoted Belichick to leave, and join New England in 2000. This is Parcell’s third nomination to the Patriots Hall of Fame, and it is likely that he will miss out once again despite an incredible career.
Ty Law, Cornerback (1995-2004)
As the clear-cut fan favorite, Law is likely a shoe-in for the Patriots Hall of Fame. Another exceptional draft pick (23rd overall), Law won 3 Super Bowls and was a 4-time Pro-Bowler while in New England. He is 22nd in NFL history with 52 career interceptions, and fans will remember his three interceptions against Peyton Manning in the 2004 AFC Championship, and pick-six to set off the scoring in Super Bowl XXXVI. Law was the definition of a ball hawk, and he holds a franchise record with six interceptions returned for touchdowns. Unfortunately, contract disputes led to his release in 2005. On being nominated, Law said, “I left and played on different teams, but my heart was always with the Patriots….I’m never one to be too lost on words, but I am right now.”
Raymond Clayborn, Cornerback (1977-1989)
When asked about being a first-time finalist, Clayborn snarked, “Why did it take so long?”, and he’s right to be upset. Clayborn was the franchise leader for interceptions (36) until Ty Law broke his record and his 555 interception return yards are second only to Law. Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowler and as a rookie established himself as a spitfire kick returner with a 31.0 yard per return average, the only Patriot since the 1970 merger to boast an average above 30.0 yards. While Clayborn will likely be snubbed by younger fans voting for Ty Law, it is almost guaranteed that he will be inducted next year by the Senior Selection Committee.