The New England Patriots announced the newest member of their Hall of Fame on Wednesday afternoon. Former linebacker and current Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel has been voted the 34th player, coach or contributor to make the cut.
Here are a few quick thoughts on the selection.
It is not hard to see why he made it in. Spending eight seasons in New England and appearing in a combined 142 regular season and playoff games, Vrabel was an ultra-reliable member of the team’s defense. The numbers — 56 total sacks, 11 interceptions, 7 fumble recoveries — do not fully do him justice, though.
Even on a defense filled with big characters, he managed to stand out as a leader and tone-setter on and off the field. Vrabel was integral to New England winning three Super Bowls in the early 2000s (and that is not even mentioning his contributions as a part-time tight end).
He will now be the 10th dynasty-era player in the Hall of Fame. The Patriots Hall of Fame is fully in its dynasty phase, with Vrabel now the 10th player of those teams to make the cut. He is joining Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013), Ty Law (2014), Willie McGinest (2015), Kevin Faulk (2016), Matt Light (2018), Rodney Harrison (2019), Richard Seymour (2020), and Vince Wilfork (2022) in the illustrious club.
As can be seen, making it in as a non-dynasty player is a near-impossible thing to do now unless you are part of a special category — like Gil Santos, Houston Antwine, Leon Gray, Tracy Sormanti or Dante Scarnecchia — or 2017 inductee Raymond Clayborn.
Vrabel lived up to his status as the pre-vote favorite. Going up against former head coach Bill Parcells and former guard Logan Mankins, Vrabel had to be considered the favorite in the voting process. Not only did he help bring three championships to the Patriots, compared to Parcells’ and Mankins’ zero, his contributions are also a lot more tangible: sacks, interceptions and touchdown catches — of which he had 10 in his time in New England — are easier to understand than the contributions of a coach or guard.
The Bill Parcells debate will rage on. Speaking of Bill Parcells, he remains a divisive figure in New England. On the one hand, his tenure as head coach in the mid-1990s helped pave the way for the team’s success under Bill Belichick the next decade; on the other hand, he left the team under controversial circumstances and went only 34-34 including the playoffs.
Parcells will probably make it in at one point, but it is clear voters prefer other options at the moment. However, to claim ignorance on their part, as some members of the local media have done on social media, is certainly not the way to approach what clearly is a complex issue.
Vrabel will share the stage with Dante Scarnecchia. The aforementioned Dante Scarnecchia will also be inducted it into the Patriots Hall of Fame this year; he was chosen via “executive privilege” by team owner Robert Kraft. Like Vrabel, Scarnecchia played a key role in establishing the New England dynasty and is well-deserving of the honor.