The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced the semifinalists for the 2024 class on Tuesday, and multiple former members of the New England Patriots have made the cut. Among the 25 players advancing to that next round, six have ties to the organization.
Headliners among them are Patriots Hall of Famers Vince Wilfork and Rodney Harrison, who have now both been named semifinalists for a third time since their retirements.
Wilfork, 42, joined the Patriots as a first-round draft selection in 2004 and went on to spend 11 seasons with the team. One of the best defensive tackles of his era and a cornerstone of two Super Bowl-winning defenses, he appeared in a combined 179 regular season and playoff games for the club before ending his career with a two-year stint in Houston. The five-time Pro Bowler is a member of the Patriots’ Teams of the 2000s and 2010s as well as their 50th Anniversary squad.
Harrison, 50, joined the Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in 2003. The former San Diego Chargers fifth-round draft choice spent the final six seasons of his 15-year career in New England, where he helped the team win a Super Bowl in 2003 and 2004. A member of the Patriots’ 50th anniversary squad and Team of the 2000s, Harrison saw action in a combined 72 regular season and playoff games with the team.
The two are joined by four Patriots who have only briefly spent time in New England. In total, the full lists of those who did and did not make the semifinals looks as follows:
LB James Harrison, S Rodney Harrison, WR Torry Holt*, RB Fred Taylor, WR Reggie Wayne*, DT Vince Wilfork
*offseason member only
While Harrison and Wilfork are deserving of the “Patriots legend” status, the team is a comparative footnote in the careers of those other four semifinalists.
Long-time Jacksonville Jaguars running back Taylor spent the final two of his 13 NFL seasons in New England. He appeared in 14 regular season and playoff games for the team and registered 425 total rushing yards.
Harrison, meanwhile, joined the Patriots in 2017 and saw action in four games. The Pittsburgh Steelers legend registered two sacks en route to Super Bowl LII.
Torry Holt and Reggie Wayne, on the other hand, signed deals with the Patriots at one point in their careers as well. Neither would not enter the Hall of Fame as members of the team, however: they did not play a single down of non-preseason football for the organization, and effectively ended their careers after some offseason time in New England.
CB Eric Allen, DE Jared Allen, OT Willie Anderson, RB Tiki Barber, WR Anquan Boldin, G Jahri Evans, LB London Fletcher, DE Dwight Freeney, TE Antonio Gates, RB Eddie George, PR/KR/WR Devin Hester, WR Andre Johnson, DE/LB Robert Mathis, DE Julius Peppers, WR Steve Smith Sr., WR Hines Ward, RB Ricky Watters, LB Patrick Willis, S Darren Woodson
Even though there are no clear first-ballot Hall of Famers on this year’s list, the former Patriots who made it to the semifinals will face some stiff competition in order to earn the famed golden jacket this year. Players such as Andre Johnson or Patrick Willis all have strong cases to make the Hall of Fame this year, and with available spots at a premium might be able to block some ex-Patriots.
Patriots nominees who failed to make the cut
RB Terry Allen, OT Bruce Armstrong, WR Troy Brown, LB Tedy Bruschi, FB Larry Centers, TE Ben Coates, RB Corey Dillon, P Jeff Feagles, QB Doug Flutie, WR Irving Fryar, QB Rich Gannon*, LB Larry Izzo, RB Steven Jackson, WR Chad Johnson, OT Matt Light, G Logan Mankins, LB Willie McGinest, DT Dana Stubblefield*, DT Henry Thomas, LB Mike Vrabel, DT Ted Washington, G Brian Waters, WR Wes Welker
*offseason member only
While six former Patriots are still alive in the race for the Hall of Fame next year, 23 of the 29 initial nominees have now been eliminated — a group that includes numerous franchise legends as well as players who should continue to get Hall of Fame consideration in future years as well.
While players such as Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi and Ben Coates might ultimately be long-shots, others like Corey Dillon, Logan Mankins and Wes Welker should remain on the nominees list for years to come.