AFC East: Jon Morris

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.

Jon Morris entering Patriots' Hall of Fame

March, 27, 2011
3/27/11
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The New England Patriots announced Sunday center Jon Morris will be inducted into the club's Hall of Fame.

Morris is the first selection of a newly formed senior committee that will ensure players from the franchise's early years will receive consideration with a growing number of players from the championship years in the mix. The senior committee will meet once every five years to deliberate on players who have been retired at least 25 years.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft made the call to Morris on Sunday.

"It was overwhelming," Morris said. "I thought my days were numbered. This announcement came as a complete surprise. I consider this the crowning achievement of my football life, and I am so thankful to the Kraft family and the selection committee for allowing me to experience this feeling."

Morris was a Green Bay Packers second-round draft choice in 1964, but the Holy Cross grad eschewed the opportunity to play for Vince Lombardi and stayed in Massachusetts.

Morris was a member of the Patriots' 50th anniversary team, was chosen for six AFL all-star squads and one Pro Bowl. He remained with the team as a radio analyst from 1979 to 1987.

Fans will vote for another honoree, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame along with Morris. Three finalists will be revealed April 15 at Patriots.com, with balloting open for a month.

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.

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