Patriots announce 2016 Hall of Fame finalists
Sorry for being so late on this one. I'm getting over being sick.
Last Thursday, the Patriots announced three finalists for their 2016 Hall of Fame class. Cornerback Raymond Clayborn (1977-1989), running back Kevin Faulk (1999-2011) and linebacker Mike Vrabel (2001-2008) have all been nominated. Only one of these three players will make it into the hall this year, and you can click here to vote. Voting ends on May 14.
Per the Patriots' official website, here are the career accolades of each player.
Raymond Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowl player (1983, 1985, 1986) for the Patriots during a career that extended from 1977 through 1989. He was drafted by the Patriots in the first round (16th overall) out of Texas in 1977 and quickly established himself as one of the game's best cornerbacks as well as a superb kickoff returner. He finished his career with a franchise-leading 36 interceptions, a record which was tied by Ty Law in 2004 and remains today, 27 years after he retired. His 555 interception return yards are second in franchise history to Law's 583 return yards. Clayborn also returned 57 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and three touchdowns. As a rookie in 1977, Clayborn returned 28 kickoffs for 869 yards and led the NFL with a 31.0-yard return average and returned three kicks for touchdowns, both of which remain franchise records. He is one of just 19 NFL players since the 1970 merger to finish a season with a better than 30.0-yard average on kickoff returns (min. 20 returns) and is the only Patriots player to accomplish the feat. Clayborn played a vital role in bringing the Patriots to respectability in the late 1970s and early ‘80s. During his 13 seasons with the Patriots, he helped the Patriots to 10 winning seasons, including four postseason berths. Clayborn intercepted Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino and recorded six passes defensed to help end an 18-game losing streak to the Miami Dolphins in the Orange Bowl in a 31-14 AFC Championship victory that propelled the Patriots to their first Super Bowl appearance. Clayborn was a member of the Patriots' 1970s and 1980s all-decade teams. He also set a franchise record by playing in 161 consecutive games.
Kevin Faulk concluded his 13-year career with the Patriots as one of the most productive players in team history. He filled various roles after joining the team in 1999 as a second-round pick (46th overall) out of Louisiana State. He is the Patriots' all-time leader in all-purpose yards (12,349) and kickoff return yards (4,098) and is the Patriots' all-time leading return specialist, totaling 5,041 combined return yards (4,098 kick return yards and 943 punt return yards). He ranks fifth in Patriots history in rushing yards (3,607), fifth in receptions (431), 12th in receiving yards (3,701) and eighth in punt return yards (943). For his career, he played in 161 games and accumulated 3,607 yards rushing on 864 attempts for a 4.2-yard average with 16 touchdowns, caught 431 passes for 3,701 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns, returned 181 kicks for 4,098 yards and two touchdowns and returned 101 punts for 943 yards. Faulk is the Patriots' all-time leader in receptions by a running back, totaling 431 in his career and is one of just 30 running backs in NFL history to reach the 400-reception plateau. In the 2000s decade, he was one of just six players to rush for more than 3,000 yards and gain over 3,000 yards receiving, joining Tiki Barber, Marshall Faulk, Michael Pittman, LaDanian Tomlinson and Brian Westbrook. Faulk helped the Patriots claim 11 winning seasons, including three Super Bowls titles and five AFC Championships during his 13-year career with New England. Faulk is a member of the Patriots' all-decade and 50th Anniversary teams as a return specialist.
Mike Vrabel is recognized as one of the best free agent signings in team history. He joined the team prior to the 2001 season, following a four-year career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, where he was used primarily on special teams and as reserve linebacker. During his eight-year tenure in New England, Vrabel played a major role in the Patriots' dynamic run of three Super Bowls in four years (2001, 2003 and 2004). He exemplified positional versatility, starting at both inside and outside linebacker positions during his Patriots tenure, regularly lining up on offense in short-yardage and goal-line situations and continuing to make valuable contributions on various special teams units throughout his career. As a Patriot, he caught eight regular-season passes, and two more in the playoffs. All 10 receptions were touchdowns, including touchdown receptions in back-to-back, 3-point Super Bowl wins over the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl XXVIII (32-29) and Philadelphia Eagles (24-21) in Super Bowl XXXIX. In Week 8 of the 2007 season, Vrabel forced three fumbles, had three sacks, recovered an onside kick and scored an offensive touchdown against Washington, all of which earned him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He earned Pro Bowl and NFL All-Pro honors following the 2007 season after registering 12½ sacks and helping the Patriots to the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history. On Dec. 26, 2005, on Monday Night Football, Vrabel became the first player since the official recording of sacks began in 1982 to have two touchdown receptions and a sack in the same game. Vrabel started 110-of-125 games and the Patriots were 95-20 in in those games for a .760 winning percentage. He was a four-time team captain, including the 2006 season in which the defense set a franchise record by allowing just 14.8 points per game and just 237 points, the fewest by the Patriots in a 16-game season. His 48 career sacks with the team are the seventh-most in team history. In 2009, he was voted to the Patriots' 50th Anniversary Team as an outside linebacker along with Andre Tippett and the 2000s all-decade team along with Willie McGinest, both of whom are Patriots Hall of Famers.
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