Yesterday, the NFL released its 2017 schedule. Today, the New England Patriots have made a release of their own: The team announced this year’s three finalists for its online Hall of Fame voting process.
The finalists are as follows:
Raymond Clayborn (CB, 1977-1989): The Patriots drafted Clayborn in the first round of the 1977 draft and he became one of the best cornerbacks and most dangerous kick returners in the NFL, as well as an integral member of New England's defense throughout his 13 seasons with the team. A three-time All-Pro selection and member of the Patriots' all-decade teams of the 70s and 80s as well as their 35th anniversary team, Clayborn played a key role on the Patriots' first Super Bowl squad and helped the franchise to 10 winning seasons and four postseason berths. His 36 interceptions with the team are a franchise record that still stands today (tied with Ty Law); as are his 161 consecutive games played.
Richard Seymour (DE, 2001-2008): With the sixth overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft, the Patriots selected Georgia’s Richard Seymour. He would go on to spend the first eight seasons of his 12-year career in New England, where he was a cornerstone on a team that won three Super Bowls. During his time in Foxboro, Seymour appeared in 126 games and registered 52 sacks, while getting voted to six Pro Bowls. He also was a member of the Patriots’ 50th anniversary team and the framchise’s team of the 2000s. To add to his already impressive resumé, Seymour also served as a team captain four times.
Mike Vrabel (LB, 2001-2008): As opposed to Clayborn and Seymour, Mike Vrabel was not drafted by the Patriots but instead signed as a free agent. During his eight years in Foxboro, he became one of the best linebackers in the NFL and one of the league's most versatile players: the 2007 All-Pro was not only used on defense but as a tight end as well. Vrabel caught 10 passes, all of them for touchdowns, including two in back-to-back Super Bowls. Vrabel, a four-time team captain was an integral member of three Super Bowl-winning teams and has been voted to the Patriots' team of the 2000s and 50th anniversary team.
Clayborn is a finalist for the fourth straight year, while Vrabel has reached the final three for the second year in a row. Seymour, on the other hand, has not yet been eligible for joining the Hall of Fame prior to 2017.
Voting is open now and can be done via patriots.com/2017hof. Polls close on May 15, and the team will announce its 26th inductee on a later date.