On the third Monday in February, the United States honor the men who have served the country as its highest elected official. On this day, President’s Day, the nation looks back in celebration and evaluation of its past. In light of the recent Super Bowl, celebrating the past also seems like a good thing to do for another nation: Patriots Nation.
With that in mind, why not combine the team and the holiday? And what better way to do that than using one of America’s most famous landmarks, dedicated to honor greats from the past? Mount Rushmore.
The monument, which was built in the 1920s, depicts four of the United States’ greatest presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. It also is frequently used in popular culture to illustrate who has reached all-time great status in his or her respective fields. With football a part of popular culture, this method can also be applied when it comes to the New England Patriots – and President’s Day is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Two spots on the Patriots’ Mount Rushmore are already taken: Quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, two of the greatest pro football has ever seen, are shoo-ins to take two of the four available spots. But who takes the other two?
Let’s take a look at 20 potential candidates.
TE Rob Gronkowski (2010–): A fan favorite due to his upbeat persona off the field and his dominating performances on it. No player in team history has caught more touchdowns than Gronkowski’s 69.
WR Julian Edelman (2009–): The franchise’s all-time leader in postseason receptions has played an important role in bringing two Lombardi Trophies to New England.
WR Wes Welker (2007–2012): While he failed to win a Super Bowl with the Patriots, Welker was a dominant receiver who is the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions.
DT Vince Wilfork (2004–2014): His Patriots career was bookended by two Super Bowl victories. In between, he was the anchor of New England’s defensive line for one decade.
LB Mike Vrabel (2001–2008): Whether it was as a linebacker or as a part-time tight end, Vrabel excelled at both. The team won three Super Bowls with him as a member of the team.
RB Kevin Faulk (1999–2011): The most recent Patriots Hall of Fame inductee is the franchise’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards.
LB Tedy Bruschi (1996–2008): A fan favorite, one of the most productive linebackers in the NFL, and the heart and soul of New England’s early dynasty defense.
K Adam Vinatieri (1996–2005): He made three of the most important kicks in Patriots history: Two Super Bowl-winners and arguably the greatest kick ever in the 2001 divisional playoffs.
Robert Kraft (1994–): Kraft bought the Patriots franchise for a then-record sum to keep it in New England. 18 seasons later and five Super Bowl wins later, his investment has paid off big time.
WR Troy Brown (1993–2007): “Mr. Patriot“ did it all. No matter if it was catching the football, returning it, or playing defense, Troy Brown did his job no matter what the job looked like.
QB Drew Bledsoe (1993–2001): When the Patriots drafted Bledsoe they finally found the franchise quarterback they were missing for the most part of their existence.
OT Bruce Armstrong (1987–2000): Only Tom Brady appeared in more games for the franchise than the stalwart left tackle. Unfortunately, Armstrong never won a Super Bowl.
LB Andre Tippett (1982–1993): One of the best linebackers of his generation, Tippett was a menace off the edge and inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008.
CB Raymond Clayborn (1977–1989): During his career, Clayborn was not only one of the best cornerbacks in the league, he also was one of the most dangerous kick returners.
WR Stanley Morgan (1977–1989): Morgan was a dominant wide receiver, who still leads the Patriots in receiving yards.
QB Steve Grogan (1975–1990): The dual-threat was never among the NFL’s elite quarterbacks, but he brought stability and leadership to the offense.
LB Steve Nelson (1974–1984): For 14 seasons, Nelson played in the middle of some of the NFL’s premier defenses. To honor him, his jersey number 57 has been retired by the team.
OG John Hannah (1973–1985): Hannah is widely regarded as the greatest offensive lineman to ever play the game. For 13 seasons, the Hall of Famer paved the way for some of the NFL’s best rushing attacks.
WR Gino Cappelletti (1960–1970): The AFL existed 10 seasons, and in five of those, Cappelletti, who worked as a wideout, kicker and even defensive back, led the league in scoring. He should be in the Hall of Fame.
Billy Sullivan (1960–1987): Without Billy Sullivan there would be no pro football in New England. He founded the Patriots franchise and led it for 28 seasons.
Of course, other players might also be deserving, whether their names are Rodney Harrison, Matt Light, or Jim Lee Hunt.
So, what do you think? Who joins Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on the Patriots’ Mount Rushmore?