Patriots

Pair of former Patriots champions among Hall of Fame semifinalists

Patriots

Two stalwarts of the New England Patriots dynasty this century are among 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2022 named on Wednesday.

Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork, in his first year of eligibility since retiring after the 2016 season, made the cut along with fellow lineman Richard Seymour, who is a semifinalist for the fifth time since last playing in 2012.

Wilfork, who along with Tom Brady was one of two Patriots to play for both the Super Bowl XXXIX and XLIX winners 10 years apart, was a five-time Pro Bowler and First Team All-Pro in 2012 for New England.

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After being drafted in the first round out of the University of Miami in 2004, Wilfork became a mainstay on the interior of the defensive line for the Patriots, appearing in all 16 regular season games in eight of his 11 seasons in Foxboro. After bookending his time in New England with titles, Wilfork spent his final two years with the Houston Texans.

Primarily a nose tackle, Wilfork amassed 517 combined tackles and 16 sacks with the Patriots.

Seymour, the highest player ever drafted by Bill Belichick in New England (sixth overall, 2001) was a member of the Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII and XXXIX champions during his time with the Patriots. He made five Pro Bowls (2002-06) and was First Team All-Pro each year from 2003 to 2005, racking up 39 sacks and 359 combined tackles while shifting along the line as both an end and playing the interior.

In October, Seymour was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

 

Seymour was traded to the Oakland Raiders on the eve of the 2009 regular season for a future first-round draft pick, which the Patriots used on Nate Solder in 2011. With Oakland, Seymour made two more Pro Bowls in 2010 and 2011.

The group of semifinalists will eventually be whittled to 15 finalists, after which between four and eight players will be enshrined in Canton.

In addition to Wilfork and Seymour, three other players with Patriots ties are among the semifinalists: Reggie Wayne, the former Indianapolis Colts receiver who spent part of training camp with New England in 2015; Torry Holt, the former St. Louis Rams receiver -- who lost Super Bowl XXXVI to the Patriots -- who came to training camp with the team in 2010; and running back Fred Taylor, best known for his days with the Jacksonville Jaguars, who finished his career with the Patriots over 13 games in 2009-10.

Conspicuously absent from the latest crop of semifinalists: former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison, who won Super Bowls XXXVIII and XXXIX with the club. The hard-hitting Harrison, who was a semifinalist a season ago, is one of two players in NFL history with at least 30 interceptions and 30 sacks along with Ray Lewis. Harrison, who played six seasons in Foxboro after nine with the San Diego Chargers, made two Pro Bowls and was twice First Team All-Pro, including in 2003, his first season with the Patriots.

Special teamer Steve Tasker, who played primarily for the Buffalo Bills, is also a semifinalist. His candidacy could serve as a blueprint for current Patriot Matthew Slater, who's made nine Pro Bowls to Tasker's seven.