By Tom E. Curran
Now it's going to get pretty interesting. Drew Bledsoe, Bill Parcells and Houston Antwine are the 2011 three nominees for the Patriots Hall of Fame. Voting starts today, April 15, at Patriots.com. Fans have a month to vote. The winner will be announced the week of May 16. And this promises to be the most fascinating race since the teambegan this system in 2007 of having nominees put forth by a committee then openingvoting to fans. Fans have a month to vote. The winner will be announced the week of May 16. And this promises to be the most fascinating race since the team began this system in 2007 of having nominees put forth by a committee then opening voting to fans.
In Bledsoe, you have a player almost single-handedly responsible for resuscitating on-field hope for a franchise that - before his arrival - was only relevant as an NFL punchline. Drafted by Parcells, he was here for nine seasons. Six of them were good ones. Five of them were loaded with anticipation that Bledsoe would be the next MarinoKellyMoon. Even though his play spiraled downward in the final days of Pete Carroll and the early days of Bill Belichick, even though his departure was unseemly (traded within the division a year after signing a 10-year, 103 million contract), his mark here is indelible.
So too was the mark left by Parcells, though. He's the one that drafted Bledsoe. He's the one that remade the team, created a program and changed the perception of the franchise. He was only in town four years. He led the Patriots to the playoffs in 1994 and the Super Bowl in 1996 but his dismount from the team was ugly. He fled to the Jets after getting uppity about what he perceived to be the meddlesome ownership of the Krafts.
Finally, there's Antwine. A three-time nominee, Antwine played 11 seasons for the Patriots, appearing in 142 games (1961-71). He led the Patriots in sacks for three consecutive seasons from 1967-69 and his 39.0 career sacks are tied for 10th (with Richard Seymour) on the Patriots all-time career sacks list. Antwine earned six consecutive American Football League (AFL) All-Star selections from 1963-68. His six all-star appearances are tied for the third highest total in franchise history. He was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team, the Patriots All-1960s team as well as the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team.
Last month, seven-time all-star center Jon Morris was the 17th person to be inducted into the teams hall of fame by a newly formed senior committee.
The complete list of Patriots Hall of Famers is listed below:
John Hannah (1991)
Nick Buoniconti (1992)
Gino Cappelletti (1992)
Bob Dee (1993)
Jim Lee Hunt (1993)
Steve Nelson (1993)
Vito Babe Parilli (1993)
Mike Haynes (1994)
Steve Grogan (1995)
Andre Tippett (1999)
Bruce Armstrong (2001)
Stanley Morgan (2007)
Ben Coates (2008)
Jim Nance (2009)
Sam Cunningham (2010)
Jon Morris (2011)
Tom E. Curran can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran
Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season.
Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder.
Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick.
Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury.
Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad.
Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.
The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues.
Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.
“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”
Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September.
Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:
Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."