PALM BEACH -- A proposal allowing teams to designate a player for return from injured reserve after spending eight weeks out has support from the Patriots.
Owner Robert Kraft, speaking Tuesday at the NFL Owner's Meetings, volunteered that Tom Brady wanted to come off IR at the end of the 2008 season to play down the stretch.
The possibility of a vital player doing that, said Kraft, is good for the league.
"It allows us to keep the game more exciting for those teams that are trying to play to make it to the playoffs, it's a great opportunity to try and do that," said Kraft. "I think it's a very positive move."
The current IR rules have been in place since 1993.
Rich McKay, chairman of the NFL's Competition Committee, explained the tweaks on a conference call last week.
''I'm going to call it an injured reserve exception for major injury to a designated player,'' McKay said. ''Traditionally, in our system, injured reserve players have been out for the year. In this case, if that player was on the roster all the way through the first regular-season weekend, then you could put that player on injured reserve, designate that player for return and the player could begin to practice six weeks after he has gone on that list. And play in games eight weeks after he has gone on that list. ''
Raymond Clayborn has been voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, beating out both Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour for the honor. The corner, who is tied for the franchise record for interceptions with Ty Law (36), will be the 26th person inducted to the Hall.
Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowler (1983, 1985, 1986) during his 13-year Patriots career from 1977 through 1989. He was drafted by the Patriots in the first round (16th overall) out of Texas in 1977, and chipped in both in the secondary and as a kick returner. As a rookie in the return game, he averaged 31 yards per return and brought back three for touchdowns.
Clayborn reacted to the news on Twitter soon after the announcement was made.
"I was fortunate to be a season ticket holder during Raymond's entire Patriots career," Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. "For the first half of his career, he teamed with Michael Haynes to form one of the best corner tandems in league history. Throughout his career, Raymond was a physical, shutdown corner.
"One of my favorite memories was watching the 1985 team advance to the Super Bowl after Raymond helped us break the Orange Bowl curse when he stymied future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino with a dominant performance against Pro Bowl receivers Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. Raymond had six passes defensed and an interception to help us claim our first conference title. It was the greatest upset victory in franchise history at the time and one the entire New England region celebrated. It is a well-deserved honor and I look forward to presenting him his hall of fame jacket."
Clayborn has been a finalist for each of the last four years but was not able to generate enough support in the annual online vote to beat out Ty Law (2014 inductee), Willie McGinest (2015) or Kevin Faulk (2016). Clayborn was eligible to be voted in by the senior committee since he's now been retired for 25 years, but he did not receive the requisite eight of 10 senior committee votes to be elected in that way.
As it turns out, he didn't need to be. When Kraft called Clayborn with the news, he said Clayborn received over 40 percent of the vote to beat out the pair of three-time Super Bowl champs.