If you ask me, the New England Patriots three Super Bowl titles were won on the strength of a top-notch defense, and I would tell you that a top defense is the way for the Patriots to get back on top. Even now, the apparent question marks regarding the Patriots focus on the turnover at wide receiver and the uncertainty at tight end, but a well-balanced offense, a strong stable of backs, an elite offensive line, and Tom Brady tell me that the offense is going to be fine. It’s all about how the defense steps up heading into 2013, and it does look like the defense is a lot better now than it was last year at this point in time.
But that’s a post for another day. Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio unveiled the New England Patriots Mt. Rushmore five days ago, and he tells us that Patriots fans agreed with this picks of Tom Brady, Adam Vinatieri, Bill Belichick, and Robert Kraft as the four faces of the franchises’s history. I have to tell you, I’d like to see two of those guys swapped out.
Vinatieri was an incredible kicker for the Patriots, but I have a hard time placing a kicker on the list, especially when the Pats have had a history of top kickers. He did nail some incredibly clutch kicks and should have a spot in the Hall of Fame, but is he really one of the faces of the franchise? No. There is no way Vinatieri belongs on this list over John Hannah, Andre Tippett, Bruce Armstrong, or even some other names. He also left the Pats for the Indianapolis Colts, and that might be a blemish on his resume for some.
I have a hard time believing that the New England Patriots Mt. Rushmore should be comprised of two non-players and a kicker, because there is so much more to this franchise than clutch kicks. Steve Grogan, Sam Cunningham, Stanley Morgan, Tedy Bruschi, Gino Cappelletti…the list goes on and on.
I would prefer to keep just one non-player (coach/GM/owner) on the list, and that man is Bill Belichick. Kraft turned around the Patriots as the owner and made the gutsy move to trade for Belichick, but Belichick has been the architect of the Patriots from a personnel standpoint. As a coach and GM, he engineered the Pats to three Super Bowl wins, two more appearances, and is arguably one of the top five coaches of all time (easily top ten). Although Bill Parcells initially turned around the team, it was Belichick who made the Patriots the league’s most envied team. Tom Brady is the crowning jewel of the Patriots organization and the only unanimous Mt. Rushmore pick, but you also have to build a roster of talent around a franchise quarterback. As for Kraft, he wasn’t the only owner to make an impact on the Pats, remember the Sullivans?
So the New England Patriots backbone in those Super Bowl championships was defense (along with Brady, who is already unquestionably one of the four), and I think it is only fitting to have at least one defensive player on there. To me, Andre Tippett is the guy with 100 career sacks, is in the Hall of Fame, and he is the best Patriots defender of all time. Tippett has to be in there for his accomplishments from 1982 to 1993, including being an integral part of the Patriots AFC Championship-winning season of 1985.
Brady, Belichick, Tippett, and who else? My final vote for the New England Patriots Mt. Rushmore goes to John Hannah, who is another Hall of Famer and a guy who was a seven-time First-Team All-Pro selection in this league. Hannah was an incredible left guard, played in the 1985 Super Bowl in his last career season, spent his entire career in New England, and he is one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history. The Patriots have always had a strong lineage of great OLs (Matt Light and Logan Mankins are recent examples), and it is only fitting to put a two-team all-Decade team selection and the best of those OLs on the Mt. Rushmore.
The beauty of this sort of thing is that everyone’s top four is going to look different, but I think it is pretty clear from my perspective that Brady, Belichick/Kraft, Hannah, and Tippett are the four most important New England Patriots in franchise history.
My New England Patriots Mt. Rushmore
Alright guys, what does your four look like? Do you guys agree with Florio’s picks? How about mine? Sound off in the comments.