While Tom Brady is the de facto face of the New England Patriots dynasty, it’s not farfetched to say the iconic teams of the 2000s and 2010s featured more defensive star-power as opposed to offensive superstars.
That’s obviously a testament to Bill Belichick, but between Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Ty Law, there was no shortage of defensive pillars who expedited the Patriots’ ascension to a dynasty.
On Tuesday, New England honored one of those stalwarts when they announced Vince Wilfork’s induction into the franchise’s Hall of Fame.
Wilfork becomes the 32nd member of the Patriots’ Hall of Fame and joins Seymour, Bruschi, Harrison, Law, Kevin Faulk, Troy Brown, Willie McGinest and Matt Light as the ninth member of the world champion 2004 team to earn induction.
It’s a fully deserved honor for Wilfork, but we can’t help but wonder what it means for Mike Vrabel, who’s a no-brainer candidate for the Pats’ Hall of Fame but continues to get snubbed in favor of other team legends.
Vince Wilfork edged out Mike Vrabel for a spot in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame.
Nobody’s disputing Wilfork’s induction, but it speaks volumes this was his first year on the ballot, and he still edged out Vrabel, who’s been a finalist multiple times, in a fan vote. For what it’s worth, Logan Mankins was the other finalist.
Maybe it has something to do with the fact Vrabel isn’t a homegrown Patriot and wasn’t as individually accomplished as Wilfork, who made five Pro Bowls and four All-Pro teams in comparison to Vrabel’s one Pro Bowl and All-Pro nod?
It’s anyone’s guess, but it doesn’t change the fact that Vrabel was the starting linebacker for a team that rattled off three Super Bowls in the early 2000s. Wilfork didn’t enter the fold until 2004 and only started six games as a rookie during the team’s championship run that year.
The Patriots didn’t win another title until 2014. By that time, Wilfork was on the decline and played his final season with the franchise before finishing his career in Houston for two seasons in 2015 and 2016.
Again, we’re not belittling Wilfork’s career or saying he didn’t deserve induction. We’re merely questioning why Vrabel continues to get overlooked despite all of his accomplishments.
When you consider candidates must be four years removed from their playing/coaching careers to be eligible for induction, other Patriots legends will soon enter the mix, thus giving Vrabel more competition to fend off.
Widely viewed as a shoo-in for New England’s Hall of Fame, Vrabel losing out to Wilfork suggests he might have to wait a little longer for his turn.