Bill Belichick has built a dynasty in New England, winning 15 AFC East titles, appearing in 12 AFC title games and eight Super Bowls and claiming five Lombardi Trophies.
But football didn’t start in New England with the arrival of Belichick. The Patriots went to an AFL title game in the 1960s and also played in Super Bowls in both the 1980s and 1990s. Yet the Patriots have only four players in the Hall of Fame. Which brings us to this week’s Talk of Fame Network poll – who is the best Patriot not in the Hall of Fame? The franchise is not without worthy candidates. Here are your options:
Houston Antwine, DT. The first dominant defender in franchise history, Antwine went to six consecutive AFL all-star games from 1963-68. He played 11 seasons with the Patriots and led the team in sacks for three consecutive seasons from 1967-69. He collected 39 career sacks, which ties him with Richard Seymour on the franchise’s all-time list. Antwine passed away in 2011 and was enshrined in the franchise Hall of Fame in 2015.
Gino Cappelletti, E/K. The AFL’s all-time leading scorer and a member of the all-time All-AFL team. Also one of only three players to play every game in the AFL’s 10-year history. The other two – former Raiders George Blanda and Jim Otto – are both enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Cappelletti handled the placekicking for the chores during the AFL era and scored 1,130 career points with his foot and 252 more points with his hands on touchdown receptions. Cappelletti helped the Patriots reach the AFL title game in 1963 and was voted the league’s MVP in 1964.
Ben Coates, TE. A 1990s NFL all-decade selection. A five-time Pro Bowl selection, Coates caught 490 passes in nine seasons with the Patriots. He set the NFL’s single-season record for receptions by a tight end (since broken) with 96 in 1994. He also collected a career-best 1,174 yards that season and set a personal best for touchdowns with nine in 1996 when the Patriots went to the Super Bowl. Coates was enshrined in the franchise Hall of Fame in 2008.
Ty Law, CB. A 2000s NFL all-decade selection. Law played 10 seasons with the Patriots who played in four Super Bowls and helped New England win three of them. He shares the franchise record with 36 interception and holds the record for return yards (583), including six touchdowns. Law intercepted Peyton Manning three times in the 2003 AFC championship game. In 1998 he became the first Patriot to lead the NFL in interceptions with nine. He was enshrined in the franchise Hall of Fame in 2014.
Stanley Morgan, WR. Played 13 seasons with the Patriots and his career average of 19.2 yards per catch is best in NFL history among receivers who caught at least 500 passes. Only one Hall of Fame receiver has a better career per catch average (Paul Warfield at 20.8). He’s New England’s all-time leader in receiving yards (10,352) and 100-yard games (38). Morgan went to four Pro Bowls and was enshrined in the franchise Hall of Fame in 2007.
Jon Morris, C. The first Patriot selected to the Pro Bowl after the merger of the AFL-NFL in 1970. Morris went to seven consecutive all-star games – the first six in the AFL, then his first and only NFL Pro Bowl in 1970. He played 11 seasons with the Patriots and was a key blocking element in Jim Nance’s back-to-back AFL rushing titles in 1966 and 1967. Morris was enshrined in the franchise Hall of Fame in 2011.
Jim Nance, FB. Only three players in franchise history were selected the league’s MVP – Cappelletti, Nance and Tom Brady. Nance won back-to-back AFL rushing championships in 1966 and 1967 with the two best rushing seasons in league history. He was named the AFL MVP in 1966 when he rushed for an AFL record 1,458 yards, then followed that up with 1,216 rushing yards in 1967. Nance played seven seasons with the Patriots and set the franchise record for rushing touchdowns (45). He was enshrined in the team’s Hall of Fame in 2009.
Richard Seymour, DL. A 2000s NFL all-decade selection. The sixth overall pick of the 2001 NFL draft, Seymour played eight seasons with the Patriots, going to five Pro Bowls and winning three Super Bowls. He would go to two more Pro Bowls in his final four seasons playing for the Oakland Raiders. Seymour played both tackle in a 4-3 scheme for the Patriots and end in a 3-4 scheme. He collected 39 sacks with the Patriots and 57 ½ in his career.