This is going to start getting really tough on Patriots fans.
The #Patriots announced finalists for this year's Hall of Fame class. Who would you vote in?— NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSBoston) April 21, 2017
In theory, it always has been. Every year since 2007, they've gone online and selected one inductee for the Patriots Hall of Fame from a pool of three finalists. Those finalists are the best of the best, voted to that spot by a 20-person committee of media, Patriots alumni and staff.
But now we're really getting into the meat of the Bill Belichick Era, meaning every spring there seems to be more qualified players -- championship players -- up for consideration.
This year Richard Seymour was among the first-year candidates, and he was voted by the committee to one of the three finalist spots. He'll be joined there by Mike Vrabel and Raymond Clayborn, both of whom made the final three last year as well.
Among those left off of the online vote -- which will be open to fans through May 15 -- were Randy Moss (first year of eligibility), Matt Light (second) and Rodney Harrison (second).
Clayborn has been a finalist for each of the last four years but has not been able to generate enough support to beat out Ty Law (2014 inductee), Willie McGinest (2015) or Kevin Faulk (2016). Clayborn was eligible to be voted in by the senior committee since he's now been retired for 25 years, but neither he nor Leon Gray (a finalist in 2013) received the requisite eight of 10 senior committee votes to be elected.
The Hall's process, with just three finalists and one inductee each year, makes it an exclusive club. But with more and more of Belichick's former pupils becoming eligible each year, there is a drawback.
Some very qualified candidates are going to have to wait a very long time before they get their red jackets.