AFC East: Houston Antwine

Bledsoe calls decision to draft Mallett 'wise'

May, 17, 2011
5/17/11
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Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett surely has a strong arm and can make all the throws. Still, the biggest criticism of his football skills is that draft analysts believe he will be a statue in the pocket.

The New England Patriots drafted Mallett in the third round, and you know who liked the pick?

A rifle-armed former Patriots quarterback who was a statue in the pocket.

"He's a big, strong-armed guy," Drew Bledsoe said Monday. "I've never met him, don't know much about him, but it sounds like he throws it pretty good. I've watched him play a little bit. We'll see how that plays out for them. But he seems to check the boxes, at least physically."

Bledsoe held a conference call to talk about his selection for the Patriots' Hall of Fame. He beat out former head coach Bill Parcells and AFL star defensive lineman Houston Antwine in an online fan vote. Bledsoe and AFL center Jon Morris, a senior committee selection, will comprise this year's induction class.

On the conference call, Bledsoe was asked for his thoughts on Mallett, who likely slid in the draft because of questions about his mobility and character. But few dispute Mallett's arm and preparedness for the NFL game.

Mallett will compete with Brian Hoyer to be Brady's top understudy. Brady became a star after a valuable developmental period under Bledsoe. When Brady went down with a knee injury in the 2008 season opener, the Patriots won 11 games with backup Matt Cassel.

"I think everybody recognizes that having a good backup quarterback is essential in this day and age," Bledsoe said. "Guys are still getting bigger, faster and stronger, and to rely on one guy to fill that very important position is a risky proposition.

"I think that was probably a wise move on their part. They saw value there in a talented guy who can come in and learn behind Tommy for years to come. ... That backup quarterback position is never important until it becomes the most important thing. That was probably a wise selection on their part to have a quality talent behind Tommy if he ever does get injured."

Fans vote Bledsoe into Pats Hall of Fame

May, 16, 2011
5/16/11
3:29
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New England Patriots fans have chosen Drew Bledsoe as their next inductee into the team's Hall of Fame.

The Patriots didn't announce the actual vote totals, but announced Bledsoe won by the largest percentage of votes since they opened the process up to fans. Also on this year's ballot were former head coach Bill Parcells and star AFL defensive lineman Houston Antwine.

"Drew Bledsoe played such an integral role in our efforts to rebuild the Patriots brand," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. "He gave fans hope for the future and provided many memorable moments during his record-breaking career.

"I will never forget Drew's record-setting performance in that come-from-behind victory against Minnesota the year I bought the team. It sparked a seven-game win streak and put the Patriots back in the playoffs for the first time in a decade. For a franchise that had only hosted one playoff game in its first 35 years, winning the AFC Championship Game at home in Foxboro and taking the Patriots to the playoffs for three consecutive years were unimaginable goals prior to his arrival."

The Patriots made Bledsoe the No. 1 pick in 1993. He spent nine seasons with the Patriots, throwing for 44,611 yards and 251 touchdowns. He went to three Pro Bowls for the Patriots and, after Tom Brady took over the job, one more for the Buffalo Bills.

In March, a newly formed senior committee selected AFL center Jon Morris for induction this year.

Bill Parcells insists he's done with the NFL

April, 18, 2011
4/18/11
12:24
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Bill Parcells, who left a large footprint on three-quarters of the AFC East, claimed Monday morning he won't make it a clean sweep and work for the Buffalo Bills -- or any other NFL team.

So he said.

[+] EnlargeBill Parcells
US Presswire file photoFormer head coach Bill Parcells regrets his departure from the Patriots, who have nominated him into their Hall of Fame.
"I'm done," Parcells flatly declared on a conference call to discuss his nomination for the Patriots Hall of Fame along with quarterback Drew Bledsoe and defensive lineman Houston Antwine.

Parcells has made statements like that before. He was supposed to be retired before he joined the Patriots and the New York Jets as a head coach and then the Miami Dolphins as vice president of football operations in 2007.

"I know I've said that before, so you better put it down in pencil," Parcells continued by phone from his home in Jupiter, Fla. "But my full intention is ... Now, you know I'm going to be 70 years old in August.

"I'm enjoying my time now. I really left Miami about Oct. 1 last year, and this is the first time I've had any extended period of time to myself and to get to do some things that I've enjoyed doing. ... It's a good time for me.

"I still have a lot of things I'd like to try to do, but I think I'm going to leave the NFL to someone else now."

Parcells also revisited his time with the Patriots. He was their head coach for only four seasons, but he made an impact. The Patriots went 14-50 the previous four years before his arrival. Parcells went 32-32 and guided the Patriots to a Super Bowl.

"In all honesty, the franchise was ... I don't want to use the word 'disarray,' but it certainly was 'unsettled,' would be the best way to put it," Parcells said. "The ownership was unsettled. There were not a lot of people going to the games. The management of the franchise was unsettled. It was a big undertaking."

That said, Parcells wouldn't take much credit for turning the Patriots into the franchise it's known as today. Parcells called it "one of the premier franchises in the league" because of Bill Belichick and the investments owner Robert Kraft made into Gillette Stadium and the practice facilities for polishing the Patriots' brand.

"Bill Belichick has done a tremendous job there, a remarkable job," Parcells said. "It's a model for the teams in the league that are aspiring to do what the Patriots have already done. I don't really think I had a whole lot to do with that."

Parcells also regretted his "domestic misunderstandings" with the Patriots' front office before his bitter departure. Parcells said he didn't really want to leave a young team that had just been to the Super Bowl, but felt he had little choice at the time because of philosophical differences that have since been settled.

"Hey, that's life," Parcells said. "You learn from things as you go on, and certainly I probably, retrospectively would have approached them a little differently than I did."

Parcells, Bledsoe up for Pats Hall of Fame

April, 15, 2011
4/15/11
10:36
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The New England Patriots announced Friday morning their two most pivotal figures from the 1990s are finalists for 2011 induction into the team's Hall of Fame.

[+] EnlargeBill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe
AP Photo/Ed ZurgaBill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe are in the running for induction into the Patriots' Hall of Fame.
Fans will have one month to choose one honoree from a ballot that includes head coach Bill Parcells, quarterback Drew Bledsoe and star AFL defensive lineman Houston Antwine. The winner will be revealed the week of May 16.

Antwine will have no shot in this popularity contest. Not only is the competition too stacked against him, but I doubt his fans' demographic will be as likely to click on Patriots.com to cast votes.

Parcells eventually should get into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was head coach of the Patriots for only four seasons, but had a major impact. The Patriots were 14-50 the four years before he arrived. Parcells went 32-32 and guided the Patriots to a Super Bowl.

But he's not fondly remembered by all New Englanders because of the distasteful way he departed. Parcells went on to work for the hated New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. Bill Belichick's success also has made Parcells' accomplishments look trivial -- although they weren't at the time.

Unless a slew of New Yorkers invade Patriots.com to vote for Parcells, my prediction is a runaway victory for Bledsoe.

Bledsoe was the first overall selection in 1993 and lived up to the responsibility. He went to three Pro Bowls and was Parcells' quarterback in the Super Bowl. He was a bombs-away passer who led the NFL in attempts three times. He made Patriots football fun again.

Bledsoe also deserves credit for helping the Patriots win their first Super Bowl title after the 2001 season. He stepped in for an injured Tom Brady in the AFC Championship Game and beat the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Bledsoe did become an AFC East enemy with the Buffalo Bills, but he didn't leave as a free agent. The Patriots traded him for a first-round draft choice.

Sam Cunningham blasts into Pats HOF

June, 14, 2010
6/14/10
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New England Patriots fans have voted Sam "Bam" Cunningham into the team's Hall of Fame.

He was selected ahead of two other finalists, center Jon Morris and defensive tackle Houston Antwine.

Cunningham was the Patriots' all-time leading rusher when he retired with 5,453 yards and 43 touchdowns.

"As a fan, I loved Sam 'Bam' Cunningham," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said. "He was an old-school fullback, who would punish would-be tacklers. Yet his signature carry was the one where he would leap over the line of scrimmage at the goal line to score a touchdown."

Cunningham was the fullback on New England's 50th anniversary team. He led the Patriots in rushing six times during his nine seasons and went to a Pro Bowl.

He had an epic season in 1978, rushing for 1,015 yards while leading the Patriots with 42 receptions. That year, the Patriots set an NFL record that would stand for 31 years with 3,165 rushing yards.

Patriots reveal Hall of Fame finalists

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
6:09
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Overlooked amid the Brandon Marshall fuss was the New England Patriots announcing three finalists for their Hall of Fame.

The nomination committee selected center Jon Morris, defensive tackle Houston Antwine and fullback Sam "Bam" Cunningham as this year's candidates.

The Patriots are the only NFL team that allows fans to make the final call for induction. You can cast your vote at Patriots.com through May 31. The verdict will be revealed in June. The induction will take place prior to the preseason home opener Aug. 12.

Morris has been a finalist the past three years. The Holy Cross grad spent 11 seasons with the Patriots. He was chosen the team's top rookie in 1964, named a Pro Bowler or AFL All-Star seven times and selected as the center for the Patriots' 50th anniversary team last year.

Antwine is a finalist for the second time. He played 11 seasons for the Patriots and led them in sacks from 1967 through 1969. His 39 sacks still rank 10th in franchise history. Antwine was a Pro Bowler or AFL All-Star six times. He and Vince Wilfork were the defensive tackles on the golden anniversary squad.

Cunningham was the fullback on the 50th anniversary team. He retired from the Patriots as their all-time leading rusher with 5,453 yards and 43 touchdowns. Cunningham led the Patriots in rushing six times during his nine seasons and went to a Pro Bowl. He had an epic season in 1978, rushing for 1,015 yards while leading the Patriots with 42 receptions. That year, Patriots set an NFL record that would stand for 31 years with 3,165 rushing yards.

Around the AFC East: Arrests keep piling up

May, 26, 2009
5/26/09
10:34
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Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Miami Dolphins

Buffalo Bills

  • The Bills can keep Terrell Owens happy if they "Make sure T.O. gets the ball all the time, win no fewer than 11 games, make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl," writes Mike Celezic for NBCSports.com.

New England Patriots

New York Jets

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