The New England Patriots 'Dynasty-Era’ is beginning to be recognized at the highest level of honor in professional football.
On Wednesday, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its list of 122 modern-era nominees for the class of 2022. Among the nominees were former Patriots’ defensive end Richard Seymour, safety Rodney Harrison and defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Time for “Big Sey”
Seymour has long been regarded as a strong candidate for enshrinement. He is deservingly regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in the history of the New England Patriots. During his career, he was also considered one of, if not the best, defensive lineman in the NFL. “Big Sey” played college football for the University of Georgia, where he earned first-team All American honors in 2000, and was named to the All-SEC First Team in 1999 and 2000. He was drafted sixth overall in the 2001 NFL Draft by the Patriots. Some consider Seymour to be among the best players in NFL history to be chosen as the sixth overall pick.
Throughout his Patriots tenure, Seymour was named to five All-Pro teams, and was a member of three Super Bowl-winning Patriots teams (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX.) He was selected to seven Pro Bowls, gaining selections as both a 4-3 defensive tackle and as a 3-4 defensive end. On occasion, Seymour even played fullback on short yardage and goal line situations. His contributions to the Patriots earned him spots on both the New England Patriots 50th Anniversary Team and the New England Patriots All-2000s Team. Seymour finished his career as a member of the Oakland Raiders, where he earned two additional Pro-Bowl selections. He retired in 2013, having amassed amazing career totals of 496 tackles, 57.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions.
Hall Call for Harrison?
Throughout his NFL career, Rodney Harrison was one of the most fearsome strong safeties in the NFL. After spending the first nine of his 15 NFL seasons with the San Diego Chargers, Harrison joined the Patriots in 2003. He was a key component in a Pats defense that won back-to-back Super Bowl titles in 2003 and 2004 (XXXVIII, XXXIX). Perhaps his most memorable moment as a Patriot was his game-sealing interception in Super Bowl XXXIX that ended the last drive of the Philadelphia Eagles. Harrison’s leadership abilities were evident in his being selected as a team captain in each of his six seasons with the Pats.
Throughout his career, Harrison was a two-time Pro-Bowler and a two-time First team All Pro. He holds the distinction of being the first player in NFL history to score touchdowns on an interception return, fumble return and kickoff return in the same season (which he accomplished in 1997 as a member of the Chargers.) As a Patriot, Harrison shined his brightest in the postseason In the 2004-2005 NFL Playoffs, he had four interceptions in three games. His seven playoff interceptions (including one returned for a touchdown) are a Patriots team record.
On October 21, 2007, Harrison became the initial member of the 30/30 Club of players with both 30 interceptions and 30 sacks (a distinction held only by him and NFL Hall of Famer Ray Lewis). He finished his career in 2009 with 1,205 tackles, 34 interceptions and 11 forced fumbles. Harrison has the most sacks (30.5) of any defensive back in NFL history. Upon his retirement, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called Harrison “one of the best players” he has ever coached.
Vouch for Vince?
Wilfork was the 21st overall selection by the Patriots in the 2004 NFL Draft. ‘Big Vince’ played 11 seasons with New England after having played his collegiate football for the University of Miami. Wilfork helped the Patriots to two Super Bowl victories, while earning five Pro Bowl selections, four combined All-Pro selections and a place on the franchise’s 50th anniversary roster. He had served as a seven-time team captain during his New England tenure.
Despite taking his final snaps in a Houston Texans’ uniform, Wilfork signed a one-day contract in August 2017 to retire a Patriot. He started 148 games across his regular seasons. In the process, 517 tackles, 16 sacks, five forced fumbles, 12 fumble recoveries, three interceptions and a touchdown were accrued. As such, Wilfork is considered to be one of the best defensive tackles in NFL history. 2021 marks his first year of Hall eligibility.
Other Potential Pats Hall-of-Famers?
On offense, the list of former Pats also includes Corey Dillon, Fred Taylor, Steven Jackson, Larry Centers, Ben Coates, Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Torry Holt, Henry Ellard, Chad Johnson, Reggie Wayne, Logan Mankins and Brian Waters. On defense, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Asante Samuel, and Adrian Wilson are all included. Punter Jeff Feagles, who began his career as an undrafted free agent with New England, is also on the ballot.
The list of modern-era nominees will be reduced to 25 semi-finalists in November, before being reduced again to 15 finalists in January. The inductees will be presented to the selection committee leading up to Super Bowl LVI, with the enshrinement ceremony taking place in August 2022.