Unlike its counterpart out west in Canton, the New England Patriots Hall of Fame selection process is pretty straightforward and tough to argue with.
A panel of folks who cover the team and work for the Patriots get together and come up with three names, either players or coaches, and those names represent that year’s nominees. Players and coaches can be nominated multiple times. From there, it’s in the hands of the fans, who can vote online for who they think should get in. It’s only one inductee per year, and he almost always receives his red jacket at a ceremony during training camp, and later gets honored at halftime of a home regular season game, often the home opener. If only all things sports were that simple.
And the 2023 Patriots Hall of Fame Finalists are an absolute murderer’s row of talent, history, and impact, and I can’t for the life of me figure out who this year’s inductee should be.
So I’ll put it to a vote. I’ll be very curious to see what the Pats Pulpit community consensus is as to which of these three extremely worth candidates is next in line for The Hall.
Bill Parcells. Already an NFL Hall of Famer, Parcells brought the Patriots from an absolute joke of a franchise to a Super Bowl in just a few years. It’s simply impossible to discuss the Patriots without Parcells’ impact on the franchise. The team he inherited in 1993 had won just 14 games over the last four seasons, coming off a league-worst 2-14 finish in 1992, and because of Parcells, for possibly the first time ever the team had some real credibility.
The problem with Parcells is that he’s something of a polarizing figure around these parts, as he didn’t leave under the best of circumstances, was only .500 in his four years as coach, and he more or less checked out towards the end. He’s also a coach that I can’t imagine carries all that much weight with the younger fans, who I’m sure recognize the name but weren’t really around for his tenure. But for those of us who remember those years prior to Tuna’s arrival, the man was an absolute miracle descended from Parts Unknown to save the team.
He’s one of the most important non-players in Patriots history, arguably behind only Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick, and that he isn’t in yet is kind of wild.
Logan Mankins. Mankins is one of the best offensive linemen in team history, and you could make a strong case that he’s behind only John Hannah on that list. Logan Mankins was nine straight seasons of road-grading, hard-hitting, mean-mugging, hole-opening badassery that earned him six Pro Bowl bids, six All-Pro honors, and a three-time team captain. He’s a two-time All-Decade Team member and was named to the Patriots 50th Anniversary team. He once played an entire season on a torn ACL and MCL in the same knee, and nobody ever knew about it until he had surgery to repair it the following offseason. He was the ultimate enforcer, a guy you were very glad to have in your corner, and a phenomenal talent.
The biggest knock against Mankins is that he’s an interior offensive lineman, which may be the single least sexy position in all of professional sports, and it’s tough to tie his contributions to the team with any kind of stat or number. When you only get to elect one guy a year, spending your vote on a guard can be a tough ask.
Mike Vrabel. Linebacker and touchdown-catching tight end Mike Vrabel is a three-time Super Bowl champ and the prototype for what would become a major part of the Patriot Way: finding tough, instinctive, cerebral players who were underutilized with their current teams, so they came to New England on the cheap and turned their careers around. There would be no Kyle Van Noys, Rob Ninkoviches, and Raekwon McMillans without Mike Vrabel.
He was versatile, smart, and tough as nails. He also may be the only player in NFL history who has 10 career receptions, all of them touchdowns, including back-to-back TD grabs in back-to-back Super Bowl wins. He’s a Pro Bowler, a first-team Associated Press All-Pro, and in the running for greatest free agent signing in team history. And let’s not forget who was really responsible for that Ty Law pick-six that set up the first of six Lombardi trophies that would make their way to One Patriot Place.
He’s one of those players you may not have appreciated as much during his tenure, but looking back on his time with the team I’d put his contributions right up there with Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri, Tedy Bruschi, and every other name that immediately comes to mine. But this now marks the seventh time that Vrabel has found himself in this particular beauty pageant, and he’s up against some world-class competition this year. I’m not sure if this will be the time he finally gets that well-deserved red jacket.
So who should it be? If you had your way, who would be the 2023 Inductee into the Patriots Hall of Fame?
Who should be the 2023 Patriots Hall of Fame Inductee?
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