Patriots Hall of Fame process underway

Cunningham.jpg

The Patriots Hall of Fame Nomination Committee met today to talk about a variety of topics, and vote on the All-Decade Team for the Aughts and nominees for the 2010 enshrinee, whom you’ll have a choice to cast your own ballot. And I was lucky enough to take part in it, which also explains a little lull in blog activity.

Anyway, that All-Decade team should be out soon, and so should the HOF candidates.

Some of the names you might be seeing among the latter: DE Julius Adams, DT Houston Antwine, RB Sam Cunningham, C Jon Morris, C Pete Brock, and CB Raymond Clayborn. Learned a lot about those guys in the meeting that I didn’t already know, and so it was a good experience.

Who would I take up for? At risk of honing in on someone just because he played a high-profile position, I went with Cunningham as my top pick, and had planned to before I went in. The reason why is relative, in large part, to what he did on the field. Put it this way: Floyd Little got in the Hall of Fame, and while Little didn’t play behind the bulldozing lines that Cunningham did, their career numbers aren’t that different. Check it out:

CUNNINGHAM (107 games)
1385 carr., 5345 yds (3.9 avg.), 43 TDs; 210 catches, 1905 yds (9.1 avg.), 6 TDs

LITTLE (117 games)
1641 carr., 6323 yds (3.9 avg.), 43 TDs; 215 carries, 2418 yds (11.2 avg), 9 TDs

Little did make an impact in the return game too, and, again, I’m not saying that Cunningham’s the better player. But he is the Patriots’ all-time leading rusher. And he led the team in rushing for five straight years — the only player in club history to do that — and four of those represent the franchise’s first run of sustained NFL success. That’s not all, either.


When a bunch of us media types met up with Patriots owner Robert Kraft in Indianapolis, one story he was sure to tell was of Cunningham helping push along the desegregation of college football in the South with his huge game for Southern California against Alabama. I’ve heard dozens of times of course, and there has, in fact, been a whole book written on the matter.

Now, I know that all of that happened with Cunningham a Trojan, and not a Patriot, and that these decisions should be made chiefly on on-field accomplishments, and not who is or isn’t a prince of a guy.

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But it’s worth noting that perhaps the best defensive player on New England’s championship teams was an African-American defensive lineman from the Univ. of Georgia. And one of their defensive cornerstones now is a African-American linebacker from the Univ. of Tennessee. You can also take in to account the pipeline New England had to LSU, and it’s fair to say that the SEC has served the local team pretty well.

So I just think it’d be pretty cool to have a guy who provided such a watershed moment for that conference as part of a team’s Hall of Fame, and his story as one to tell within its walls.

Feel free to debate his merits, or the merits of any of the other Hall of Famers, in the comments section, and I’ll alert you guys as this process moves along.

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