Troy Brown leads the champs' charge on the Patriots' Hall


Troy Brown leads the champs' charge on the Patriots' Hall

Troy Brown is the leading edge of a "tsunami of quality" that is about to crash into eligibility for the Patriots Hall of Fame.

The term "tsunami of quality" was blurted out by longtime Patriots reporter Ron Hobson, formerly of the Patriot Ledger, on Tuesday at a meeting to discuss candidates for the 2012 Patriots Hall of Fame class.

Brown is the first of the Super Bowl-winning Patriots to become eligible since he's been out of the league for five seasons. Next year, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison and Willie McGinest are eligible. Ty Law becomes eligible in 2014 and Mike Vrabel and Lawyer Milloy are eligible in 2015.
It is indeed, a tsunami.

On Tuesday, the 19-member Hall of Fame nomination committee gathered at Tavolino at Patriot Place to discuss the candidates for this year's class.

Each year since 2007, the committee votes for three candidates to be presented as finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame. Fans then vote on the finalists and the winner of that fan vote is the inductee.

Last year, Drew Bledsoe was inducted. The other nominees were Bill Parcells and Houston Antwine, a three-time finalist who dominated as a defensive lineman in the AFL.

Brown's eligibility and the presence of former finalists Parcells and Antwine means there are three likely nominees already in the mix. But a significant amount of time was spent discussing other Patriots greats, including Leon Gray, Irving Fryar, Julius Adams, Raymond Clayborn, Jim Plunkett, Curtis Martin, Mosi Tatupu and Fred Marion.

Coaches Chuck Fairbanks and Mike Holovak were also debated.

Personally, I cast my votes for Brown, Parcells and Antwine.

In the past, I've cast my vote for Leon Gray, a tremendous tackle who played alongside John Hannah to form one of the greatest guard-tackle duos in league history. But there's no real groundswell for Gray aside from myself and a couple of others and I believe Antwine deserves to ultimately get in given his three-time finalist status.

No player epitomized the Patriots' rise to prominence more than Troy Brown, an eighth-round pick who contributed on offense, defense and special teams and was the best football player on the team from 2000 through 2003.

Parcells, despite his messy departure, was there for the first dawn of the Patriots post-Kiam Era and impacted everything with his presence, ability and personality.

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

Curran: Patriots are likely to finish unbeaten this season

FOXBORO -- Resistance is futile. 

You see this team out there scampering around from drill to drill on a cloudy, late-July day, not a lollygagger to be seen, everything moving with military precision, and you know what it looks like? 

It looks like 80-something players and a coaching staff starting NFL training camp. 

What is it really? It's the first day of work for the NFL's greatest dynasty as it embarks on what will likely be a historic campaign. 

Never mind "may." Never mind "has a chance." It is LIKELY the Patriots will be the first team to ever win 19 games in a single NFL season. 

They don't want to hear that and are already dousing the thought of perfection by labeling it stupid, ridiculous, or disrespectful.

Between now and the start of the season, a parade of indignant former players, coaches and executives will snort and chortle at how absurd the conversation is. 

Frankly, they don't know what the hell they're talking about. 

That won't stop all of them from scoffing at the prospect of 19-0 the same way Curtis Strange scoffed at Tiger Woods back in 1996 when Woods said coming in "second sucks and third is worse." You'll learn, Strange said. 

Strange learned. Everybody learned. Maybe the experts should have seen it coming with Tiger. Maybe not. 

But with the 2017 Patriots, a failing to see what's likely to happen means willfully ignoring facts to do it. The Patriots went 17-2 last year. They lost to Buffalo because their third-string quarterback's thumb was dangling. They lost to Seattle on a night they handed the ball to the Seahawks repeatedly and still were at the Seattle 1-yard line with 30 seconds left with a chance to send the game to overtime but came away with nothing. 
They played poorly in the AFC Divisional Playoff against Houston and won by 18. They played "meh" against the Steelers in the AFC Championship and led 33-9 after three quarters. (Don't "But Le'Veon Bell" me. Would Le'Veon Bell have been covering Chris Hogan? No? Okay. Pay attention). 

In the Super Bowl, they spotted Atlanta -- a team being favorably compared to the Greatest Show on Turf Rams -- 25 points, and they wiped out that 25-point deficit in 23 minutes of play. 

Since they walked off the field in Houston, they added a Pro Bowl corner named Stephon Gilmore to play opposite their other Pro Bowl corner, Malcolm Butler. They added a wide receiver named Brandin Cooks, who caught 162 passes the past two seasons for 2,311 yards and 17 touchdowns. And they will also unveil once again the best tight end of his generation, Rob Gronkowski. 

They have a head coach who is definitely the best of the free agency era, probably the best of the Super Bowl era and arguably the best of all time. Their quarterback has even fewer qualifiers around his greatness and legacy. 

The crème de la crème of the rest of the league is sludge. Smug Aaron Rodgers is tethered to the moon-faced buffoon in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy, a head coach who could overcomplicate ordering coffee. In Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger is fat and fresh off an offseason spent contemplating retirement and Ring Dings. The Cowboys' maturity issues start with their 70-something owner and cascade right down to their enabled superstars Ezekiel Elliott and Dez Bryant. Denver? Trevor Simien. Atlanta? Their motto this year is "Embrace the Suck." What does that even mean? That they enjoyed the Red Wedding that was the second half of the Super Bowl so much, they just want to roll around in humiliation for another year? Dear God. 

My point with all that is that there is no Peyton Manning out there to be the Frazier to Brady's Ali. And while there may be a coach out there with gray matter who could battle Belichick, that coach hasn't spent 18 seasons collecting assistants and coordinators and creating a program where they can tell a player to shit in the corner and the player asks, "What color?"

Don't fight it. Don't scoff at it. Don't be like those people who, in 2001 and 2002 were still saying Tom Brady was a product of the system and that the Patriots would rue the day they traded Drew Bledsoe within the division. Open your eyes. Think critically. What do you see.