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Patriots Hall of Fame: Burton, Coates or Morgan?

Patriots Hall of Fame
For Whom Will You Vote and Why?

Turns out the bios of Ron Burton, Ben Coates and Stanley Morgan I linked to at the Boston Herald and The Boston Globe the other day were New England Patriots team releases and exactly the same. So, I lifted them and posted them below. Have a read and think about who you would or will vote for.

This is the first time fans have been allowed to cast ballots for Patriots Hall of Fame candidates. Voting ends Aug. 1. The new New England Patriots Hall of Fame will be part of the planned Patriot Place slated to open in Fall 2008. (See also The Globe and a video at Patriots.com for more on Patriot Place.) A committed of 27 selected the three finalists.

Ron Burton
Ron Burton became the first player drafted by the Patriots when the running back was selected out of Northwestern on Nov. 22, 1959. The 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pound running back played from 1960 through 1965 for the Patriots, collecting 1,536 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He also recorded 111 receptions for 1,205 yards and eight touchdowns. In 1962, Burton combined for a career-high 1,009 yards from scrimmage and a total of 1,449 all-purpose yards. After his Patriots career, Burton went on to have a distinguished community service career, establishing the Ron Burton Training Village in Hubbardston, Mass., which teaches life skills to young men from all walks of life. The Patriots annual community service award is named after Burton, and is awarded to the current Patriots player who best exemplifies the qualities he displayed.

Ben Coates
Ben Coates played nine seasons with the New England Patriots from 1991-1999. The 6-foot-5-inch, 245-pound tight end appeared in 142 career games with the franchise, collecting 490 receptions for 5,471 yards and 50 touchdowns. In 1994, he grabbed a then-franchise best 96 receptions, a mark that also eclipsed the NFL receptions record for tight ends. Coates led the team in touchdown receptions for six consecutive seasons and led the team in receptions in five of those six seasons. He currently ranks second in franchise history in touchdown catches and third in receptions. A member of the NFL's 1990s All-Decade Team, Coates was named to the Pro Bowl in five consecutive seasons from 1994-1998. The Livingstone College product was originally drafted by the Patriots in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft.

Stanley Morgan
Stanley Morgan played wide receiver for the Patriots from 1977 to 1989 and caught 534 career passes, a franchise record that stood for 17 years. The 5-foot 11-inch, 181-pound receiver remains the franchise record holder with 10,352 yards receiving (19.4-yard avg.) and 67 touchdowns. He also holds the Patriots record for receiving touchdowns in a season, with 12 in 1979 and yards with 1,491 in 1986. He earned Pro Bowl honors in 1979, 1980, 1986 and 1987, and was a key member of the Patriots' 1985 AFC Championship team. He also ranks fifth in franchise history in punt returns (92) and return yards (960). He was drafted by the Patriots in the first round (25th overall) of the 1977 NFL Draft, and played in 180 games for the Patriots over 13 seasons.

After reading these highlights, I don't see how anyone can possibly vote for Ron Burton. He seems to be here because he was the Patriots first draft pick ever and because of his post-career community service. I can't say I really know how he got into the top three.

There are towering banners outside the four corners of Gillette Stadium displaying some the greats who have worn the Patriots colors throughout their history. Burton is not among them (not that I remember) and there are others there (including Russ Francis and Sam Cunningham) that I would think rank ahead of him in pursuit of a home in the Patriots Hall.

And when you consider the 11 players who currently reside in the hall (Bruce Armstrong, Nick Buoniconti, Gino Cappelletti, Bob Dee, Steve Grogan, John Hannah, Michael Haynes, Jim Lee Hunt, Steve Nelson, Vito "Babe" Parilli and Andre Tippett) and the fact that only one player a year wins election, I don't see how Burton can be among the top three.

I think Coates gets in one day, but it depends who else ends up as finalists in the future. I don't think the Drew Bledsoe Era is the Drew Bledsoe Era without Coates. What was Bledsoe with no Ben Coates, no Curtis Martin (no Sam Gash, no ... it's quite a list)?

But Morgan is my choice this time. Barring Hannah and Cappelletti and until Troy Brown become eligible, Morgan is the poster boy (yeah, pretty sure he has a banner outside Gillette, too**) for the consummate Patriot. In addition to his stats above, some numbers that truly astound (19.4 avg. yds per catch!), Morgan was among the NFL career leaders in several receiving categories upon retirement.

Cast your official vote for the Patriots Hall of Fame here. Any one find it interesting that this link goes to KraftSportsGroup.com instead of Patriots.com?

Before you cast your official vote, vote in our poll. For whom will you vote and why?

** I can't find a list of the players on the banners, so I'm basing these statements on recollection. I can't even say for sure the banners are up year-round. If anyone has a list, let me know. Otherwise, I'll make a list my next visit to Foxboro.