FOXBOROUGH -- As they usually do, the Patriots put together a first-class afternoon for the team's 21-member Hall of Fame Nomination Committee today.
The goal was to come together, discuss and debate nominees, and then have each member fill out a ballot with their top three choices. Those ballots have been turned in and the Patriots plan to announce the three finalists on April 15. Fans will then vote for the one inductee.
It is an honor to be part of this experience. It is also nice to catch up with retired writers who once covered the Patriots, listening to their stories and how they viewed players from past eras.
Quarterback Drew Bledsoe; coaches Bill Parcells, Raymond Berry and Chuck Fairbanks; defensive linemen Houston Antwine and Julius Adams; center Jon Morris; offensive tackle Leon Gray; cornerback Raymond Clayborn; wide receiver Irving Fryar; tight end Russ Francis; and running back Curtis Martin were some of the top candidates discussed.
My ballot ended up looking like this:
1. Drew Bledsoe
2. Bill Parcells
3. Houston Antwine
I view Bledsoe as a slam dunk and can't imagine him not being inducted on his first opportunity. While Parcells was only here four years (1993-96), and the way he left was not ideal, I still rated him highly because of how he helped turn the franchise around. There was a bit more of a struggle with the No. 3 spot. Leaning heavily on some of the veteran voices in the room, it went to Antwine (1961-71), a Hall of Fame finalist the last two years and six-time Pro Bowler.
What would your ballot look like?