Our primary goal in 2021 is simply to keep moving forward. Twelve months ago, we all closed our doors and dealt with unknowns. We re-opened those doors to the public just about six months later on September 11 with limited hours of Fridays, Saturday, Sundays, school vacation weeks and Monday holidays. We were thrilled to re-connect with our fans as a very different NFL season kicked off, and it was terrific to see our guests enjoying our interactive museum and hall of fame once again. While we certainly implemented safety protocols and followed all state guidelines, those hardly disrupted The Hall guest experience, which is a tribute to the stadium personnel that helped us prepare for re-opening, to our terrific, cooperative guest services staff and to fans who respected the guidelines and each other.
Those safety protocols currently remain in place so that our guests can feel as comfortable as possible when visiting The Hall. As we move forward into the heart of the spring season, we anticipate returning to a seven-days-per-week operation when the time is right to do so. With the vaccine starting to reach a larger percentage of our fellow citizens, there is a glowing light at the end of the tunnel, and we cannot wait to see Patriot Place and The Hall bustling with visitors.
For those who haven’t been back to The Hall since we re-opened, we certainly look forward to you returning and feeling safe as you do. We haven’t stopped working to ensure you will enjoy re-visiting us in 2021. In 2019, we launched what amounted to a two-year exhibit celebrating the team’s unprecedented two decades of incredible success. The first part of the exhibit was called, Yes, It’s Still a Dynasty, and celebrated the team’s accomplishments from 2001-2019. We unveiled part two of that celebration with The All-Dynasty Team, which is currently on display and honors the best players that comprised those dynastic teams.
We also added several items to our collection in 2020 based on individual accomplishments. Cornerback J.C. Jackson led the NFL with 11 takeaways (nine interceptions and two fumble recoveries) and his game-worn jersey is on display. Jackson also set a Patriots record with an interception in five consecutive games.
Quarterback Cam Newton set several team records running the football from the QB position. It started in Week 1 when he set a franchise mark for most rushing attempts in a game by a QB with 15 (for 75 yards and two TDs). His jersey from that game is on display. Newton finished the season tied with Steve Grogan (1976) for most single-season rushing TDs by a Patriots quarterback (12) while setting the team marks for most attempts (137) and rushing yards (592). His helmet from the season is on display and there are multiple sets of his cleats now in The Hall’s collection.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman established a career best for single-game receiving yards with 179 in a Week 2 loss at Seattle. His gloves from that game are on display.
The Patriots kickers also had a banner year. Punter Jake Bailey was a weapon. His 48.7-yard gross punting average was the best in team history. More importantly, his 45.6-yard net average was the best in Patriots history, led the NFL and was second in NFL history. He also had 31 punts downed inside the 20 (second in the NFL and in team history) with only five touchbacks. His punts made it challenging for opposing returners who managed only 12 returns for 71 yards on 55 punts. The 71 yards is the fewest in Patriots history and sixth fewest in league history. His game-worn home jersey is on display.
Place-kicker Nick Folk started slowly by missing his first two field goal tries, but made all of his remaining 26, including two game-winners as time expired that both earned him AFC Special Teams Player of the week honors. His 50-yarder beat the Jets on Nov. 29 and his 51-yarder toppled the Cardinals on Nov. 29. His 26 consecutive made field goals is the second longest streak in Patriots history (Stephen Gostkowski – 31). On a cool side note, Folk’s mother is a direct descendant of William Bradford, a founder, settler and long-time governor of the Plymouth Colony settlement. Bradford was also a passenger on the Mayflower’s original voyage to America in 1620.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore was one of three Patriots selected to the Pro Bowl along with Bailey and Matthew Slater. Gilmore’s game-worn blue suede cleats are on display. Running back Rex Burkhead’s cleats from his three-touchdown performance against the Raiders on September 27 are also on display.
As we continue moving forward, and as the world makes progress in the fight against Covid-19, we hope to see fans returning at normal levels to enjoy The Hall experience. We also look forward to celebrating Richard Seymour’s Patriots Hall of Fame induction this fall. Seymour was elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame last year, but his ceremony was postponed. This year, we hope to pay him his deserved tribute.
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