By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- The finalists for the 2022 Patriots Hall of Fame selection are in. The three-player contingency includes a three-time Super Bowl champion from the early dynasty days, a two-time Super Bowl champion that bridged the two championship eras, and arguably the best player of the Bill Belichick era to never win a Super Bowl.
The Patriots announced that Mike Vrabel, Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins are this year's finalists for induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame. Fans can now vote -- at Patriots.com/hof -- through May 16 to select this year's inductee.
Previously, the Patriots announced nine candidates for this year's class, with the likes of Bill Parcells, Wes Welker, and Lawyer Milloy coming up short in the committee's voting.
Vrabel joined the Patriots in 2001 as a free agent, after being an underutilized member of the Pittsburgh defense for four seasons. he immediately made an impact as a starter in New England's defense, winning a Super Bowl in his first year and winning two more in 2003 and 2004. Vrabel also famously worked double-duty as a goal line tight end, catching 10 touchdowns from Tom Brady -- including two in Super Bowls. Vrabel is now a finalist for the sixth straight year.
Wilfork was the Patriots' top draft pick in 2004 out of Miami, and he instantly became a mainstay in the middle of the Patriots' defense for a decade. Wilfork played 148 regular-season games and 19 playoff games for the Patriots, winning a Super Bowl in his first and last season in New England.
Mankins, likewise, was the Patriots' top pick in 2005, and though statistics may be lacking for a guard, his toughness was evident for the duration of his nine-year run in New England. Never was that toughness more clear than in 2011, when he played the entire season with a torn ACL and didn't tell anybody. He later tore his MCL in his other knee that year, playing in the Super Bowl with torn ligaments in both knees. That Mankins made it to the list of three finalists despite being a rare post-2000 Patriots player without a championship ring and despite a messy divorce from the team speaks volumes to the type of player and leader he was in the Patriots' locker room.
Interestingly, the Patriots noted that all three of the finalists played together in the 16-0 regular season in 2007.
Of course, the high number of eligible players from the two dynastic runs figures to both create a logjam of the Belichick-era players and also make it challenging for the pre-dynasty days earn enshrinement in Foxboro.
This year's inductee -- who will become the 32nd member of the Patriots Hall of Fame -- will be announced on May 17.
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