The Patriots most recent Hall of Fame Inductee, cornerback Raymond Clayborn, will return to Foxboro on September 24, 2017 to be honored at halftime when the Patriots host the Houston Texans. Clayborn actually lives just outside Houston in Katy, Texas. The 1970s- and ’80s-era cornerback had been a Hall of Fame finalist three times before, but on his fourth attempt, Clayborn appropriately became the 26th person honored with this annual distinction, as he wore jersey No. 26 during his Patriots career.
Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowl player (1983, 1985, 1986) during his 13-year Patriots career that extended from 1977 through 1989. He was drafted by the Patriots in the first round (16th overall) out of Texas in 1977 and quickly established himself as one of the game’s best cornerbacks, as well as a superb kickoff returner. He set a franchise record with 36 career interceptions, a record which Ty Law tied in 2004 and remains today, 28 years after Clayborn finished his Patriots career. His 555 interception return yards rank second in franchise history to Law’s 583 return yards. Clayborn also returned 57 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and three touchdowns. As a rookie in 1977, he returned 28 kickoffs for 869 yards and led the NFL with a 31.0-yard return average and returned three kicks for touchdowns, both of which remain franchise records. He is one of just 20 NFL players since the 1970 merger to finish a season with a better than 30.0-yard average on kickoff returns (min. 20 returns) and is the only Patriots player to accomplish the feat.
Clayborn played a vital role in bringing the Patriots to respectability in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. During his 13 seasons in New England, he helped lead the Patriots to 10 winning seasons, including four postseason berths. In a 31-14 AFC Championship victory that propelled the Patriots to their first Super Bowl appearance, Clayborn’s performance helped end an 18-game losing streak to the Miami Dolphins in the Orange Bowl. Clayborn was a member of the Patriots’ 1970s and 1980s all-decade teams. He also set a franchise record by playing in 161 consecutive games.