In honor of the NFL’s 100th anniversary, the league and NFL Network put together a 26-member panel of experts — one that includes New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick — to pick an All-Time Team. So far, 61 of its members have already been revealed and four of them have ties to the Patriots: Belichick and linebacker Junior Seau were unveiled in the first and second episode of the show, with two more players being added in the third.
Let’s take a look at them:
CB Mike Haynes
Haynes originally joined the Patriots as the fifth overall draft selection in 1976. He went on to appear in 90 regular season games and three playoff contests for the organization and established himself as one of the best cornerbacks not just of his era but in NFL history. Haynes, who also was a prolific punt returner, finished his Patriots career with 28 interceptions and six Pro Bowl nominations.
“Mike Haynes went to Arizona State under coach [Frank] Kush; they had a lot of good skill players and really he was a receiver,” Belichick said about Haynes. “Probably should have played receiver but they had John Jefferson so he played corner and was drafted in the first round as a corner and also as a punt returner. [...] He was long and a quick guy at that length. He was truly a receiver playing corner.”
One of three unanimous selections at the cornerback position, Haynes left New England after the 1982 season to join the Oakland Raiders. While his team changed, his play remained stellar and he earned his lone Super Bowl ring in 1983 — his first of seven seasons in Oakland. Haynes announced his retirement after the 1989 season and his number 40 jersey was subsequently retired by the Patriots. He also was voted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1994, three years before joining the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
K Adam Vinatieri
Vinatieri came to New England in 1996 as an undrafted rookie and following a one-year stint in NFL Europe. He went on to kick for the team for the following 10 seasons and established himself as one of the most reliable player his position has ever seen — and one with a knack at making the big play: Vinatieri kicked the game-winning field goal in Super Bowl 36 as time expired and two years later also helped the Patriots to a title with a last-second kick.
His most impressive moment, however, might have come during the 2001 season when he helped New England defeat the Oakland Raiders in the divisional playoff round: despite playing in snowy and windy conditions, he was able to make a 45-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter to tie the game — one of the greatest kicks in NFL history. In overtime, he made the game-winner to keep the Patriots alive in the playoffs and en route to their first championship.
“Personally, with Adam, I just can’t say enough about that kid,” Belichick said about the NFL’s all-time leading scorer. “He played at South Dakota State, then played in Europe. ‘96 it was his first year with the Patriots — it was my first year with the Patriots when I was coaching the secondary. [...] Super clutch kicker. The kick he made against Oakland in four inches of snow was the greatest kick I’ve ever seen.”
After winning three titles with the Patriots, Vinatieri left the organization as a free agent in 2006 and promptly won another Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts. The now-46-year-old is still playing in Indianapolis and as of today has a combined 397 regular season and playoff games on his résumé. After his retirement — whenever it will actually come — Vinatieri will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
For more information on the other Patriots to make the NFL’s All-Time Team, please click here: