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Debate Revisited: Pats Pulpit community names its candidates for second-greatest Patriots player of all time

Related: Pats Pulpit Debates: Who is the second-greatest Patriots player of all time?

New England Patriots John Hannah... Photo by Dick Raphael /Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

As part of our new Pats Pulpit Debates series we recently asked this question: Who is the second-greatest New England Patriots player of all time behind the GOAT himself, Tom Brady?

Needless to say, this led to a lively debate, so let’s highlight some of the answers right here:




It’s really 3 guys...John Hannah or Mike Haynes or Rob Gronkowski...impossible to choose cause they played different positions...and they were best ever...the reason I picked these 3...they are the best ever at their position...not just Pats...NFL history....pick any of these 3 and you are correct.

Very close behind.. Ty Law and Richard Seymour..Both Hall of Famers...Pats have had some incredible players.


add cole strange future self of the past


To me, the second greatest player would have to be a game changer….a player that was durable and played consistent football for years… Someone who could alter the game …. and alter the course of history for the organization…. The following is a good place to start:

A lot of younger posters won’t understand how good Hannah was and what he brought to the table back in the day….’Hog’ was a monster at guard…. so good he would still be a force in today’s NFL ….so for those picking John is an excellent choice.

Another good one was Haynes who was incredibly quick, agile and a nose for that football…. Kids today should watch some of his highlights but even film won’t describe how good Mike was at CB….better than Sanders, Revis or Talib…combined….

Which brings me to Gronkowski…..Pats fans born this side of the new millennium knew what he did for the Pats…. If Gronk stayed healthy his whole career, I couldn’t imagine what other records he would have broken as a TE…. Gronk was a savage…

Tough to choose between these 3 since there were a lot a great Patriots…. Ty Law, Vince Wilfork, Richard Seymour, Adam Vinnetari… and I’m throwing Julian Edelman’s name in there too…

Pats Fan stopping by:

Hannah and it ain’t even close.

Pats Fan stopping by:

I have watched all Patriot players both live and on TV since the late sixties. Does it make me an expert, nope, just saying my old eyes have seen a lot of football.

I do believe the era in which players play is important to determining how well they played and should be used to help define their place in rankings.

The Pats winning 6 rings in the salary CAP era is one such example.

Haynes was great, for sure. But he played in an era where you could practically mug the WR down the field. I am not taking anything away from him as he played by the rules of his era.

That being said, Ty Law is the greatest DB in Patriots history in my book. He played in an era where holding and chucking were getting more and more regulated and therefore shifting skill and talent to the forefront in what modern day DBs need to be. Ty Law was so smooth, so smart and always where he needed to be. As much credit as he received he was still greatly under rated. I have him easily one of the best DBs in NFL history.

I have Steve Nelson at # 3. Ever read how Wolverines will chew off their leg to escape a trap and live on with 3 legs? That was Nelson. He defined tough, he defined determination and he defined what a great leader should be. I love Brady, but Steve Nelson is my all time favorite Patriot.


John Hannah .


Hannah, consensus greatest interior offensive lineman in the history of the game, even going back to the greats of the pre-merger era. Mike Haynes and Gronkowski, there’s some debate, but there’s almost no disagreement anywhere about Hannah.


Hannah, Gronk, and Haynes are all great picks. But an argument could be made for Vinieteri - best money kicker of all time.


2nd best ever?

Woooooooooooofff....This is a tough one....Is it production, popularity, playing time? Its easy to say Gronk, Hannah, McCourty, Edelman. It would hard to not leave out the dudes on those LOADED squads we had in the 90s. This list is more recent (late 80’s-present day) we go!

(these are in no particular order)

1. Law: HOF, SB Winning, shutdown corner..An absolute ball hawk for a LONG TIME in the NFL...Really all you have to say.

2. Bledsoe: #1 overall draft pick. At one point he led the league in completions, attempts, passing yards, 13th all time in game winning drives at 31, 4 pro bowls, 17th all time in passing yards, 23rd all time in passing TD’s. He has more passing TD’s than Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Donovan McNabb, and Kurt Warner (just to name a few). He also still has an NFL record that might not ever be broken. I think some of the younger fans don’t really appreciate what that guy did in a very small amount of time.

3. Willie: I bet he played in close to 200 games as a Patriot.

4. Adam: Friggin nails out there. Gun to your head, family is being held hostage, name a guy who will make a game winning kick at the most important time....#4

5. Seymour: Was there anyone else who was what felt like an ultimate game changer?

6. Branch: My MAIN MAN! Former Superbowl MVP!!!! If you are a Superbowl MVP you automatically make this list. He can go anywhere in this top 10 having that trophy.

7. Faulk: Dude played in FIVE Superbowls.....not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, FIVE. Never a liability with the ball. Played for us for over a decade. Thank you for your service, Mr. Faulk.

8. Moss: Only 3 yrs of service but we are still counting the yards and 50 touchdowns!

9. i got a three way tie at the lead RB1 position...Martin, Blount, or Clock Killin’ Corey guys be the judge.

10. Flutie: The title includes “Patriots player”....Doug played professional ball in 2 different countries, 3 professional leagues, in 3 different decades, in 3 different time zones, multi time title winner, and a lengthy list of of awards. Even though he didn’t do any of these as a Patriot..he was still a Patriot player. Also...Pro Football Reference not including his stats in the CFL is a joke. Its still PRO FOOTBALL! Why are those stats left out? Also the same reason as to why is he being left out of the PRO FOOTBALL HOF!!!!!!!!!!!!!


i’ll go with hog hannah, too. i’m not sure it’s really close, either. he was absolutley the best ever at inside lineman. hard to argue that.

Joe T8:

Rob Gronkowski.

I’m biased, but I don’t even care because I’m still right. Guy was an integral part of 5 SB runs in NE. 6 total if we count TB, which should count in some respect but obviously weighed far less than accomplishments here.

He was hurt for the ATL SB and we lost two of those to the Giants and Eagles, but it doesn’t matter. Bro look at these stats:

22 games, 98 receptions, 1389 yards, 15 TD, 14.2 Y/R

On top of being an elite blocker at this position that is all playoff numbers. Sure two seasons in TB but those are preposterous numbers. Yeah I see Hannah (a guard even in an era where it mattered more), Haynes, etc. But how many less rings do we have if Gronk was never there? Arguably 2 less, arguably 3 less.

4x SB champion, greatest TE of all-time. I’ll take the greatest TE of all-time who carried games and playoff games and made all-time great SB plays (Rams SB he won it for us with Brady on that play for OFF), over a guard even god-tier Hannah. Easy choice.


Gronk is most certainly the #2 for me. It’s a pretty easy choice from my perspective.


Debate all you want. The Patriots have been blessed to have the greatest of all time QB Tom Brady and the greatest of all time O-Lineman John Hannah.


It comes down to how much you value SB’s. Tom Brady is viewed at the Goat because of the 7 rings. Say he had only 2 and the same stats. Everyone would still be saying Montana is the greatest. So moral of the story, championships and how integral that player was to those championships trump almost everything else. In that case it has to be Gronk.

After that it gets muddy. I am old enough to remember Hannah and Haynes. The question is who was the second best PATRIOT of all-time, not the second best player who happened to be a Patriot for a while. Therefore has to be Hannah because although Haynes was the best CB ever (an athletic freak before there were athletic freaks). Problem is half his career was with the Raiders.

After that it gets even muddier. Personally to me it would be Bledsoe. I know a lot of people won’t like that. But this was a moribund, laughing stock of a franchise for several years until he arrived. I know that is hard to believe for the younger crowd, but trust me it was true. He made us respectable again. That has to be worth a lot.


Mosi Tatupu and Bruce Armstrong should be n the discussion.But I’ll take Stanley Morgan any day of the week .

Rod Rust:

Adam Vinatieri

Michael McDermott:

Tom Brady 1, John Hannah 2.

The real debate is who you put 3rd, there are a lot of good choices to think about. Mine is Russ Francis, although Haynes and Gronk have an argument.


For modern championship era, it has to be Gronkowski. Lots of good players but none were as dominant and integral for as long as he was.

Beyond that, I don’t think guys like Hannah and Haynes can really be compared to modern day.

Stuart Self:

I’m old enough to remember Hannah and Haynes but I wasn’t a Pats fan back then. I was a Celtics fan and get pissed easy that Bird gets a bit more forgotten every year.

My heart says Gronk, my head says Hannah.


Sadly, Curtis Martin is in the running/should be mentioned.

A moment of silence for what his departure did to the franchise.


John Hannah easily


It’s hard to compare players from different eras. That said, I’m surprised that I don’t see the names of Bruce Armstrong, Vincent Brown, and Ben Coates mentioned even once on this page so far.

I think it’s because Brown & Coates had fairly short careers, and they all played through some down years for the franchise. I’ve always thought you could make the case that Coates was just as good as Gronkowksi and maybe even more important to the team during his era than Gronk. The only advantage I see for Gronk is better blocking, I think Coates was just as good as a receiver and YAC man.

Any receiver who played with Brady has a huge leg up on guys that played w/ Bledsoe. When Coates moved on, Bledsoe’s career tanked and never recovered. Bledsoe’s whole game was throwing to Ben Coates 10-15 times a game. Once Coates was gone, Bledsoe’s poor recognitition and slow decision-making were exposed.

Vincent Brown was a dominating badass on some horrible teams. Same w/ Bruce Armstrong. One thing that should be said about Ty Law, compared to the other great CB’s, is that Law was outstanding as a pure cover corner, but also one of the best tacklers of the d-backs in the league.

And whither Rodney Harrison? For me, he and Ronnie Lott are the best safeties I ever saw in the NFL.


Hog Hannah….

But there were lots of greats that seemingly fell thru the cracks on lousy teams or traded away by lousy management before the salary cap became a factor….

Jim Nance ruled:

How about a Patriot running back who can be remembered thusly:

Retired as the 9th All-Time leading running back in the NFL.

Still holds the Pats record for career rushing TDs (45).

Second best single season average of 104.1 yards per game, behind Dillon @ 109.

Bonus: was also a Two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Heavyweight.

You know the name.

Just sayin’.

Swede in the South:

Jordan Richards. Somehow played Belichick into starting him in multiple games.