By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame has entered the Boston sports discussion this week. With Vince Wilfork and Richard Seymour making the list of 26 modern-era semifinalists, and with Rodney Harrison not making that list, opinions have been plentiful regarding the worthiness of the three former Patriots.
Naturally, given his profound knowledge and appreciation for the history of the NFL, as well as his personal experience coaching those players, Bill Belichick was asked to chime in on the matter during his media availability on Friday morning. Specifically, the coach was asked about Seymour and Wilfork, and whether players at positions where statistics aren't readily available to show their impact deserve more recognition.
Before answering that question specifically, Belichick expressed his issue with Hall of Fame debates and discussions.
"As I've said before, the Hall of Fame is out of my control. And since there's no criteria for the Hall of Fame, it's really hard to even have a conversation about it, because there's no ... we're not basing it on anything," Belichick said. "It's your opinion of a great player, my opinion of a great player, somebody else's opinion of a great player. Like, I don't know what that means. You know, is it how many years they played, is it how many All-Pros they had, is it how many championships they won, is it individual stats, is it team? You know, you can make it whatever you want to make it."
Belichick continued: "So there's no criteria. You can make a case for everybody. And ultimately, the voters have to decide what they're going to weigh."
With that minor grievance out of the way, Belichick then did lob Hall of Fame platitudes for both Wilfork and Seymour.
"But for me, those are the two best defensive linemen that I've coached," Belichick said of Wilfork and Seymour. "Vince was a phenomenal player, and he was quite different from Richard. Richard was a phenomenal player and quite different from Vince. But both very dominant in their own way, and kind of in their own position. Even though Richard played nose his rookie year, and Vince played end his rookie year, you know, Vince is really an inside player and Richard is really a three to a five-technique."
Belichick continued: "Richard's almost impossible to match up against. But in a way, Vince is almost impossible to block in the running game. And in the passing game, there's some guys that would match up against him, but his overall strength and athleticism for his size was pretty impressive. And because we had players like Seymour, there was less of a need to use Vince on third down -- although, we used him on third down, and he had some huge plays on third down, like in the AFC Championship Game against Baltimore. I mean, he really won that game with his fourth quarter pass rush on [Joe] Flacco up the middle of the pocket.
Belichick stated without a doubt that both Seymour and Wilfork are in his hall of fame. He just can't say whether or not that will transfer over to the real Hall of Fame in Canton.
"In my hall of fame, those two guys are there -- without a doubt. But when you start comparing apples and oranges and Vince's style of play compared to guy like John Randle or somebody like that, they're just completely different players. And which one's what and who do you like, I mean, that's -- I think with no criteria at all to work with really at any position for any player, it's just what flavor you prefer, and what flavor somebody else prefers. That's really what it comes down to, so I don't know ... When you're asking about judging somebody for the Hall of Fame, it's hard. I can't really make a say on that. I just think that it's so much of a personal perspective from the voters."
All of that being said ... Belichick made sure to state his belief that Rodney Harrison belongs in the Hall of Fame.
"The only thing I would add to that would be relative to those two players -- to Vince and Richard Seymour -- I think that Rodney Harrison 100 percent [belongs] in that conversation," Belichick said. "And I've coached some of the other safeties that have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, and not take anything away from them, but certainly, Rodney Harrison belongs in that -- he belongs in that conversation. And he certainly belongs in the conversation with other players that are already there."
Belichick concluded his three and a half minute Hall of Fame mini-speech succinctly: "But again, all that's out of my control. And I'll focus here on the Titans."
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