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.
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 their 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.