Patriots

Patriots

One of these years, Richard Seymour is going to be voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Probably. Hopefully.

And if that year arrives before he gets into the Patriots Hall of Fame, HOWLING will ensure that someone has to DO SOMETHING about the CEMENTHEADS that ALLOWED this to HAPPEN!!!

At that point, we can guide you to the fine print. Nobody reads that – never has – but you will see that it’s not one person or a small coalition of people maliciously keeping Seymour out.

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I mean, the fans make the selection based on three individuals the selection committee puts up. And only one guy gets in per year. So it’s the process.

On Monday, the PHOF selection committee met virtually to discuss the candidates and the 2010 All-Decade team for more than an hour.

Among the guys nominated for consideration were Seymour, Mike Vrabel, Bill Parcells, Randy Moss, Chuck Fairbanks, Julius Adams and Fred Marion. New to the nominees this year were Wes Welker and Logan Mankins.

Each member of the committee votes for three guys. The first selection on a ballot gets five points, second guy gets three points and the third guy gets one point. The points are tabulated, there’s an online vote and – in August somebody gets their bright red jacket and a day on the plaza at Patriot Place.

Seymour’s been up for the fan vote three times. Vrabel has been up four times. The last four inductees have been Kevin Faulk, Raymond Clayborn, Matt Light and Rodney Harrison.

 

Clayborn was a three-time finalist before he got in. Parcells was a finalist three different times, never got in and now hasn’t been a finalist since 2014.

This year – again – some guys who certainly deserve to have their day aren’t going to get in. And it’s too bad, but it is what it is.

It’s a team Hall of Fame. When it began in 2007, nobody knew that that year’s team would go 16-0 or that the franchise would go on to play in six more Super Bowls over the next 12 seasons, winning three and turn what was then a six-year run of excellence into a two-decade bonanza.

So the “one inductee per year” format made sense.

Now – with the aforementioned list of candidates about to be joined in the next decade by Vince Wilfork, Rob Gronkowski, Adam Vinatieri, Stephen Gostkowski, Julian Edelman, Bill Belichick, Dante Scarnecchia, Ernie Adams, Matt Slater, James White, Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Stephon Gilmore, Donta Hightower and Tom Brady – the pileup at the door is going to get thicker.

There are 16 individuals I’ve mentioned already that need to be in. In my opinion. So we got enough to take us to 2036. Throw in Robert and Jonathan Kraft and we’re at 2038.

Frankly, I don’t care what the neighbors say if Seymour doesn’t get voted in before he gets into Canton. I don’t care about arguments that he was better and more impactful in his eight seasons than Kevin Faulk was in his 13 seasons.

First of all, the two were never on the ballot at the same time.

And secondly, a team Hall of Fame is exactly where the nuance of what Faulk meant to the Patriots in terms of longevity, leadership, culture, selflessness, four-down production, all that Patriot Way claptrap should be celebrated. Without apology.

Is Seymour worthy? Of course. I could make a vein-popping argument for him as the top selection. I could do the same for Vrabel and why I would put him above Seymour on my pecking order. But I don’t have to. I am certain those guys – however I put them on my top two – are going to wind up being put up for the fan vote.

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The debate for me is whether I put up Welker or Mankins with my third nomination.

Welker was a five-time Pro Bowler, four-time All-Pro (first or second-team), the greatest slot receiver in NFL history and was the oil in the gears of one of the greatest offenses the game’s ever seen. In my opinion, he was the chicken and Moss was the egg, same way it was with Edelman for Gronk. Your opinion may be different. I understand. Gronk and Moss were physically capable of doing things nobody else in league history did. Saying a couple of tough, waterbug, underneath receivers were the catalysts for those guys may feel like blasphemy.

 

But that’s the design of the Patriots offense and it’s why it worked so well for so long whether it’s Troy Brown, Welker or Edelman running in the slot. Again, I don’t care what the neighbors say.

With Mankins, you have a player who was here longer than Welker (nine seasons to six), a six-time All-Pro, six-time Pro Bowler and the best offensive lineman the team’s had in the Belichick Era. He was the player the rest of the team would follow off the bus, so to speak. The toughest guy on the team along with Wilfork. The reverence with which Jerod Mayo spoke of Mankins told you everything you needed to know about him as a leader.

These two are as close as Vrabel and Seymour. All day long, I figured I’d go with Welker. I even came up with what I thought was a defensible if not unassailable piece of logic. If you went from Mankins to an adequate offensive guard, your season wouldn’t be ruined. If you went from Welker to an adequate slot, it would be.

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There are some positions where, even if the player is elite – and Mankins was – there’s only so much direct impact he can have on wins and losses. Ask Joe Thomas. Best left tackle in the game for a decade and after 11 seasons with the Browns, retired having gone 48-128. Or ask Welker, whose missed connection with Brady late in the 2011 Super Bowl is not forgotten.

In the end, though, I went with Mankins. It was about being consistent. I banged the drum for Faulk because of longevity and his impact on the team’s culture. Mankins was here three seasons longer. And while he got sideways with Belichick and Kraft, he was – for his teammates – everything a teammate could be.

So it’s Vrabel, Seymour, Mankins for me.