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Jon Morris gets his due, call

A little before 1 o’clock Friday afternoon, Jon Morris’ phone rang. When he picked up, the voice on the other end belonged to Patriots [team stats] owner Robert Kraft.

On three previous occasions at this same time of year, the former Patriots great was hoping to hear from Kraft. But the call never came to his Blufton, S.C., home. After three failed attempts at having fans vote him into the Patriots Hall of Fame, Morris figured it just wasn’t meant to be.

But there was just something not quite right about having the best center in team history — and one symbolic of the oft-overlooked players who laid the foundation — not in its shrine. As it looked, Morris, who played during the AFL days in the late 1960s and early ’70s, realistically didn’t have the best chance of getting voted in by the fans when pitted against the modern players.

On Friday, over some fried clams at the Red Wing diner, the Patriots Hall of Fame’s newly formed senior selection committee needed little debate before voting Morris in, although there was a news embargo on the announcement until today.

“To get this phone call now, I’m just overwhelmed by it all,” Morris said, moments after speaking with Kraft. “It’s so exciting for me, and it comes when you least expect it, which makes it even better.”

Having lost out already to Sam “Bam” Cunningham, Jim Nance, and Ben Coates in the first three elections, and with Drew Bledsoe up for nomination for the first time this year, Morris thought he truly had no shot. And with a parade of more recent icons to follow (Troy Brown [stats], eligible in 2012, Tedy Bruschi [stats], Rodney Harrison [stats] and Willie McGinest in 2013, Ty Law in 2014), Morris didn’t believe his name would ever again be nominated down the road.

With legends like Morris in mind, the Patriots formed that new senior committee to consider early-era players for induction. The 10-member panel, which will meet every five years, will conduct its vote based on three candidates who had previously been selected as finalists and been retired at least 25 years.

Morris, a six-time AFL All-Star and Pro Bowl center, came away the winner this time. He will be inducted along with another 2011 entrant after the fans do their voting in a month-long balloting beginning April 15.

“(Morris) was never going to get in from the fan voting,” a committee member acknowledged to his fellow panelists on Friday. “No one is going to vote for a center who played 50 years ago.”

A separate nomination committee also met to select the three 2011 first-time nominees. Bledsoe is a sure bet to be on the ballot. Curtis Martin, Joe Andruzzi and Corey Dillon [stats] would be three other first-year eligible players.

Morris, who turns 69 next month, played 11 seasons with the Patriots. He had been advocating for a veterans committee like the one that was formed, so naturally he was pleased to hear that it had come to fruition.

“People like me had no chance, especially with the Super Bowl teams now starting to become eligible,” Morris said. “I told a couple of guys not to even nominate me, because it was tough to go through it again. But this was painless.”

The Patriots are the only team that allows fans the opportunity to vote on the members for its Hall of Fame.

“Anybody that’s played any kind of sport, whether it’s college or professional, wants to be the best that they can be,” Morris said. “This says you were. That’s just a confirmation, an underlying thing that says, ‘Yeah, I did accomplish something’ and it makes me feel great. I was fortunate enough to be selected to the athletic hall of fame at both my high school and my college. So now my pro team finishes that circle, and I’m as proud as I can be of it.”

According to Patriots media relations chief Stacey James, the committee was pleased with the process.

“We just wanted to make sure there was some mechanism in place to make sure those guys were not forgotten. This was the best way to protect against guys being lost in the process,” James said of the new committee. “We want to make sure we are recognizing and honoring the greatest players in franchise history and that no one gets overlooked in the process.”

Post je objavljen 30.03.2011. u 04:04 sati.