The Pro Football Hall of Fame selection process is done by a committee of 48 people; members of both the media and the institution itself. Since its opening in 1963, they have voted for 354 players, coaches and contributors to be enshrined.
The college football equivalent, meanwhile, works a bit differently. Not only have far more people been bestowed the honor — 1,261 so far — the voting process itself is a lot bigger as more than 12,000 people are participating.
Earlier this week, all of them were mailed this year’s ballot — a list consisting of 78 players and seven coaches from the Bowl Subdivision as well as 99 players and 33 coaches from the divisional ranks. Among them are five former members of the New England Patriots.
Let’s take a look at them broken down into the ballot’s categories.
Three of the NCAA Bowl Subdivision players up for selection have appeared in at least one regular season or playoff game for the Patriots:
QB Michael Bishop (Kansas State): A seventh-round draft pick by the Patriots in 1999, Bishop spent two seasons in New England as a backup behind established starter Drew Bledsoe. In that role, he saw time in eight games but went a mere 3-for-9 as a passer for 80 yards as well as a touchdown and an interception. Bishop was released in August 2001, having lost the backup competition to Tom Brady and Damon Huard.
QB Matt Cavanaugh (Pittsburgh): Cavanaugh joined the Patriots as a second-round selection in 1978 and spent five seasons with the organization. While serving primarily as a backup behind Steve Grogan, he did start 15 games and attempted a combined 385 passes during his time in New England. When he left the Patriots, he had completed 53.5 percent of his throws for 3,018 yards and a 19:23 touchdown-interception rate.
RB Kevin Faulk (Louisiana State): After a standout career at LSU, Faulk was drafted in the second round by the Patriots in 1999. Over the next 13 seasons he established himself as a cornerstone of the team’s offense while setting numerous franchise records including all-purpose yards (12,349) and return yardage (5,041). Faulk helped New England to 11 winning seasons as well as three Super Bowl titles before his retirement after the 2011 season.
Besides those three, a pair of players from the divisional ranks who also wore the Patriots’ uniform at one point in their respective careers are also on the ballot:
LB Vincent Brown (Mississippi Valley State): Another second-round draft choice by the Patriots, Brown spent his entire eight-year career in the NFL with the club. Between 1988 and 1995, he appeared in 124 games for the organization and proved himself a reliable player in the middle of the defense: he intercepted 10 passes, registered 16.5 quarterback sacks, forced 6 fumbles and scored a pair of touchdowns.
CB Tyrone Poole (Fort Valley State): Poole may have spent only three of his 14 NFL seasons with the Patriots between 2003 and 2005, but he did help the team win Super Bowl 38 — one of 24 starts for him during his tenure with the organization. When he left New England, he had not just registered 7 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles, but also won two championship rings (he was inactive on injured reserve for Super Bowl 39).
Last year, two former Patriots made it to the College Football Hall of Fame: linebacker Andre Tippett and defensive tackle Kenneth Sims were both voted in for their respective careers at Iowa and Texas.
In order to become eligible to make it thus far, a player must have earned at least one first-team All-American honor during his career. Tippett, Sims and the five finalists this year have all done so.