A virtual change

The annual Patriots Hall of Fame Committee meeting is typically a luncheon hosted at Patriot Place. The Monday, April 13, 2020 meeting took place during lunchtime, but the only lunch available came from one’s own refrigerator. Because of the social distancing edict resulting from the Covid-19 emergency response, the 2020 meeting was held virtually via WebEx. Food aside, it was different, but also indicative of the “Spring 2020.”

The change in the environment did little to dampen the discussions as several nominees were discussed, including past finalists Richard Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Bill Parcells, Chuck Fairbanks and Fred Marion along with first-year eligible players Logan Mankins and Wes Welker. A sampling of other nominees included Lawyer Milloy, Randy Moss and Julius Adams.

It’s always fun to listen to the debates and the passion in the room and some of that may have been lost in the virtual setting, but strong feelings certainly exist regarding certain candidates.

The committee holding the nomination key included 27 members this year with newcomers Phil Perry (NBCS Boston), Joe Amorosino (WHDH) and Mike Petraglia (CLNS Media) joining writers that covered the Patriots long before the Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon was built – Jim Donaldson, Ron Borges, Glen Farley, Ron Hobson, Mark Farinella and Howard Ulman to name a few. Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett is also part of the group along with many other familiar names.

Nomination day is always an interesting look back at the team’s history and individual players’ place within it. Length of service is always an issue discussed among the committee members. For example, Randy Moss and Curtis Martin played only three years in New England while Bill Parcells was here for just four. So that can sometimes be an issue especially in years where committee members might be weighing those candidates against the likes of a Kevin Faulk or Matt Light, who both played more than a decade in New England. Of course, honors, awards, statistical production, organizational impact and Super Bowl championship contributions are also pieces of the puzzle.

The best thing about the process, though, is that the individual committee members can determine their own criteria as to define a Patriots Hall of Famer. The only rule in place is that a player or head coach must be retired for four years to be eligible. After that, it’s up to the voters to select three worthy candidates from which the fans can select to be the 2020 Patriots Hall of Fame inductee.

Vrabel has been a finalist in each of the last four years while Richard Seymour has joined in each of the last three. The fans in those years have elected Kevin Faulk (2016), Raymond Clayborn (2017), Matt Light (2018) and Rodney Harrison (2019) as the inductee. Parcells was a finalist in 2011, 2012 and 2014. Those selected by the fans in those years included Drew Bledsoe (2011), Troy Brown (2012) and Ty Law (2014) – all players drafted while Parcells was the head coach. Marion also was a finalist in 2012. The only other previous finalist not to be inducted was Ron Burton, who was on the ballot in 2007 when Stanley Morgan was elected.

This year’s finalist will be announced on April 21 and will be followed with a month-long voting period during which fans can weigh in via Patriots.com.