FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots announced that three former Patriots have been selected as finalists for this year’s induction into the team’s hall of fame. This year’s finalists (listed in alphabetical order) are offensive tackle Matt Light, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and linebacker Mike Vrabel. All three players helped the Patriots earn the first three Super Bowl championships in franchise history. Light is a first-time finalist, Seymour is a finalist for the second straight year, while Vrabel is a finalist for the third straight year. It is the first time that three teammates have been selected as finalists.
Starting today, Patriots fans are encouraged to vote for the former Patriot most deserving of hall of fame enshrinement. Fans can vote on online by clicking here through May 14. The Patriots will announce the 2018 Patriots Hall of Fame selection that week.
This year’s inductee will become the 27th person to be enshrined into the Patriots Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony is held on the NRG Plaza outside The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon. The outdoor ceremony is free and open to the public. Patriots fans of all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. The date and time of this year’s event will be announced at a later date.
Beginning in 2007, the Patriots started a new hall of fame tradition, inducting one player or head coach into The Hall each year. The process for induction involves a panel of media, alumni and staff who collectively nominate the players or head coaches most deserving of induction. After the nominations are made, the committee votes and the top three tallies become that year’s finalists. The Patriots then give their fans the opportunity to vote online to select each year’s Hall of Fame inductee. The Patriots are the only team in the NFL that allows the fans to make the final selection of each year’s nominees.
The New England Patriots held their annual nomination committee meeting on Wed., April 4, to nominate this year’s candidates for induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Now it is up to the fans to select this year’s honoree.
More information on each of this year’s finalists can be found below:
Matt Light spent his entire 11-year career with the Patriots and played a major role in leading the Patriots to 11 consecutive winning seasons, including nine division championships, five conference titles and three Super Bowls titles. Light was drafted in the second round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of and anchored the offensive line at left tackle while protecting Tom Brady’s blind side for more than a decade. He joined Brady (8), Cornelius Bennett, John Elway and Charles Haley as the only other players to start in at least five Super Bowls. In 2009, he was recognized as one of the best players in franchise history when he was named to the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team. Light earned Pro Bowl honors following the 2006, 2007 and 2010 seasons. He played in 155 regular-season games with 153 starts as well as all 20 postseason games during his career and helped the Patriots’ offense finish ranked among the top 10 seven times. Light earned a Pro Bowl nod, Associated Press All-Pro first-team and Pro Football Weekly All-NFL Team honors in 2007 after helping New England finish first in total offense with a then-NFL record 589 total points and 75 touchdowns. Beyond his impressive on-field accomplishments, Light was also active in the community and was the recipient of numerous awards for his efforts. He founded “The Light Foundation” in 2002, an organization that is dedicated to empowering young people through grants, scholarships and outdoor activities.
Richard Seymour spent the first eight seasons of his 12-year NFL career with the Patriots and played an important role in delivering six division championships, four conference titles and three Super Bowl championships to New England. He was named to five straight Pro Bowls with the Patriots (2002-06) and earned three straight first team All-Pro honors (2003-05). His five Pro Bowl berths are the most by any Patriots defensive lineman since the 1970 NFL merger. He was also a four-time team co-captain. In 2009, he was voted to the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team and the 2000s All-Decade Team. During his time with the Patriots, he anchored a defense that allowed an average of 17.8 points per game and allowed fewer than 20 points per game in six of his eight seasons with New England. Seymour also blocked seven field goals in his career. He was originally drafted by the Patriots sixth overall in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft out of Georgia. Seymour immediately established himself as one of the Patriots premier players and helped the Patriots win their first Super Bowl during his rookie season. Overall, Seymour started in 105 of 111 games, totaling 460 tackles, including 256 solos stops with 39 sacks. He also recorded two interceptions and six fumble recoveries. He played in 15 postseason games with 13 starts and added 66 total tackles, 4½ sacks and two fumble recoveries. In 2004, he scored his first career touchdown on a fumble recovery that he returned 68 yards in a 31-17 win at Buffalo (10/3/04). Seymour was traded to Oakland in the summer of 2009, where he played for the final four years of his career, producing two additional Pro Bowl seasons.
Mike Vrabel is recognized as one of the best free agent signings in team history. He joined the team before the 2001 season, following a four-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was used primarily on special teams and as a reserve linebacker. During his eight-year tenure in New England, Vrabel played a major role in the Patriots’ dynamic run that included three Super Bowls in four years (2001, 2003 and 2004). He exemplified positional versatility during his Patriots tenure by starting at both inside and outside linebacker , regularly lining up on offense in short-yardage and goal-line situations, and continually making valuable contributions on various special teams units. As a Patriot, he caught eight regular-season passes and two more in the playoffs. All 10 of his catches were for touchdowns, including touchdown receptions in back-to-back Super Bowl wins over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXVIII (32-29) and Philadelphia Eagles (24-21) in Super Bowl XXXIX. In Week 8 of the 2007 season, Vrabel forced three fumbles, had three sacks, recovered an onside kick and scored an offensive touchdown against Washington, all of which earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He earned Pro Bowl and NFL All-Pro honors following the 2007 season after registering 12½ sacks and helping the Patriots to the NFL’s only 16-0 regular season in NFL history. On Dec. 26, 2005, on Monday Night Football, Vrabel became the first player since 1982 (when sacks became an official statistic) to have two touchdown receptions and a sack in the same game. Vrabel started 110-of-125 games, and the Patriots were 95-30 in those games for a .760 winning percentage. He was a four-time team captain, including during the 2006 season in which the defense set a franchise record by allowing just 14.8 points per game and just 237 points – the fewest by the Patriots in a 16-game season. His 48 career sacks with the team are the seventh-most in franchise history. In 2009, he was voted to the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team as an outside linebacker along with Andre Tippett and the 2000s All-Decade Team along with Willie McGinest, both of whom are Patriots Hall of Famers.
About the Patriots Hall of Fame
The Patriots Hall of Fame was officially formed in 1991 after John Hannah became the first Patriots player to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. With the hall of fame, the Patriots created a new way of honoring their greatest players. When The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon opened in 2008, Patriots players, past and present, finally had a place where their legacies would be preserved and available to fans year round. Enshrinement into The Hall is the franchise’s highest honor befitting of the franchise’s greatest players, with 30-foot video pylons displaying each enshrinee. Beginning in 2007, fans became part of the hall of fame tradition as active participants in the selection process.
This year’s inductee will join other Patriot greats and two contributors as a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame (listed in alphabetical order below with year of induction):
Houston Antwine (2015)
Bruce Armstrong (2001)
Raymond Clayborn (2017)
Drew Bledsoe (2011)
Troy Brown (2012)
Tedy Bruschi (2013)
Nick Buoniconti (1992)
Gino Cappelletti (1992)
Ben Coates (2008)
Sam Cunningham (2010)
Bob Dee (1993)
Kevin Faulk (2016)
Steve Grogan (1995)
John Hannah (1991)
Mike Haynes (1994)
Jim Lee Hunt (1993)
Ty Law (2014)
Willie McGinest (2015)
Stanley Morgan (2007
Jon Morris (2011)
Jim Nance (2009)
Steve Nelson (1993)
Vito “Babe” Parilli (1993)
Andre Tippett (1999)
William H. “Billy” Sullivan, Jr. (2009)
Gil Santos (2013)