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Patriots Hall of Fame finalists: Raymond Clayborn, Ty Law, Bill Parcells 04.16.14 at 11:36 am ET
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Ty Law believes in the 2012 Patriots. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Ty Law is one of three finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

The Patriots announced Wednesday that former defensive backs Raymond Clayborn and Ty Law and ex-coach Bill Parcells were named finalists for the team’s Hall of Fame.

Fans can vote on which individual deserves to be the 2014 inductee starting Wednesday and continuing through May 15. The winner will be announced in early June.

Clayborn played for New England from 1977-89 before finishing up with two seasons with the Browns and was named to the Pro Bowl three times (’83, ’85, ’86). A first-round draft pick (16th overall) out of Texas, Clayborn finished his career with 36 interceptions (tied with Law for the team record) and 555 interception return yards (second to Law’s 583). He also returned 57 kickoffs for 1,538 yards and three touchdowns. As a rookie in 1977, he set single-season team records with three kickoff returns for touchdowns and a 31.0-yard return average.

Law played 10 seasons for the Patriots (1995-2004) as part of a 15-year NFL career after being drafted 23rd overall out of Michigan. A four-time Pro Bowler (;98, ’01, ’02, ’03), Law won three Super Bowls in New England. He returned a Kurt Warner pass 47 yards for a touchdown in the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win over the Rams in 2002. He holds franchise records for interceptions (36, tied with Clayborn), interception return yards (583) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (6). He became the first Patriot to lead the league in interceptions when he had nine in 1998.

Parcells coached New England for four seasons and led the team to the playoffs twice, including a run to the Super Bowl in 1997. He was named Coach of the Year for his performance in 1994, when the Patriots won their final second regular-season games to clinch their first playoff berth in eight years. In 1996 the Patriots won a then-franchise-record 11 games and their first division title in a decade. They eat the Steelers and Jaguars to advance to the Super Bowl for the second time in team history before losing to the Packers. Parcells, who is the only coach to lead four franchises (Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys) to the playoffs and three different teams (Giants, Patriots, Jets) to a conference championship game, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year.

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Why I gave Ty Law, Rodney Harrison, Bill Parcells a Hall pass 04.02.14 at 6:16 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Getting a chance to take part in the nomination process for the Patriots Hall of Fame is one of the great perks of my job. Meeting with some local writers and organizational staff, as well as retired reporters, broadcasters and alumni, it’s a terrific experience. Every year, there’s great discussion about the history of the team and the merits of those under consideration for the honor. From this viewpoint, I always end up learning something new.

After the nomination process, we vote on three finalists — the first choice gets five points, second choice gets three points and third choice gets one point. The votes are tabulated, and the three finalists will be announced April 15. Fans then will have a month to vote on Patriots.com, and one will be announced as this year’s inductee.

After some really engaging back-and-forth between committee members that lasted almost almost two hours — and included a healthy debate over a variety of players and coaches, including Raymond Clayborn, Ty Law, Willie McGinest, Leon Gray, Rodney Harrison, Chuck Fairbanks and Raymond Berry — I decided to cast my votes for Law, Harrison and Bill Parcells.

Ty Law The cornerback hit most of my requirements — he not only was considered one of the best cornerbacks of his era, he played a major role in helping win three Super Bowl championships. An elite-level player in his first year of eligibility — despite the fact that there were a few others who have been on the ballot a longer time — he was a no-brainer in my opinion. (From this viewpoint, he’ll likely be the fan favorite to be the one who will be fitted for a red jacket come this summer.) A two-time All-Pro, Law ended his career in New England with 36 picks in 10 seasons.

Rodney Harrison – In Harrison’s second year of eligibility, I’m proud to say I was the one who entered his name into consideration. He didn’t have the lengthy career with the Patriots that some of the other players under consideration — in truth, you could identify him just as much as a member of the Chargers as you could as a member of the Patriots — but he had so many signature moments while in Foxboro. His work on and off the field as a key point in the history of the franchise cannot be overlooked, as he helped guide the secondary through the post-Lawyer Milloy era. A two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time All-Pro, he was one of New England’s most important defensive players over the last decade.

Bill Parcells Parcells was a finalist in 2011 and 2012, and a past look at my votes reveals that I’ve been fairly consistent when it comes to Parcells and the Hall. He was a transformative presence for the franchise, one of a handful of people who restored a sense of relevancy to the Patriots. Once again, we were reminded that his departure from Foxboro was less than ideal, but you can’t argue against the fact that he played a key role in reviving New England and helping create a winning culture that has endured for the better part of the last 20 years. Besides, if he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, he should be acknowledged accordingly in Foxboro.

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Marshall Faulk on M&M: ‘Just ironic’ that Patriots have not won another Super Bowl since Spygate 01.30.14 at 1:42 pm ET
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Marshall Faulk

Marshall Faulk

Former Colts and Rams running back Marshall Faulk checked in with Mut & Merloni from Super Bowl Radio Row on Thursday, and he made it clear he still holds a grudge for what he perceives to be cheating on the Patriots’ part before their Super Bowl win over Faulk’s Rams in 2002. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“Here’s the thing: In the NFL, you don’t get fined for nothing. All right? Let’s understand that. OK? We’re smart, we’re businessmen, and it’s about protecting the brand, protecting the shield,” Faulk said. “Now, you tell me, at anything that you do, if you find out somebody cheats you in any little way, that you’re OK with it. I mean, you’re not a competitor. You’re not a competitor if you’re OK with it. I’m a competitor. That’s what I am.

“It’s not like I hadn’t played that team before. It’s not like I didn’t know what they were going to do to me. That’s fine. And up until that day that we found out that information, you had never heard me say anything about that team or about what they did. And I still consider [Bill] Belichick one of the greatest coaches. I still consider Tom Brady one of the greatest players. That team and what they did, and went on that run, it was great. The only thing that bothers me is there’s something that exists that gives us doubt on why the game went the way it did.”

Faulk would not come out and directly say the Patriots cheated — and a story implying a Patriots staffer taped a Rams walkthrough never was verified — but Faulk noted that the Patriots have not won a championship since the Spygate scandal broke.

Said Faulk: “The question is, how did they become a championship team? … Listen, I’m not going to be the only one to say this: Ever since they got fined and, ‘OK, we’re not doing that anymore,’ they’ve won how many Super Bowls?”

Asked directly if he feels the facts lead him to the opinion that the Patriots have not won a Super Bowl since being punished for videotaping opposing coaches, Faulk danced around the question.

“I’m just telling you how I feel about it. If that’s your perception of what I’m saying, then that’s your perception,” he said. “I’m not taking anything away from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady; they’re great. I’m going to continue to tell you that. They’re great. They’ve won, boy, I don’t know how many games, how many AFC championships, eight? … You don’t do that without getting some things accomplished.

“I’m just telling you it’s just ironic that that’s the case.”

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Pete Carroll says limitations in New England ‘kept me from being the kind of coach I could be’ 01.28.14 at 6:13 pm ET
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NEWARK — His time in New England was brief and not altogether unsuccessful.

Pete Carroll stepped in for Bill Parcells and took his first two teams to the playoffs in 1997 and ’98. But when 1999 ended in 8-8 mediocrity and no playoffs, owner Robert Kraft decided it was time for a change. He was 10-6 in 1997, 9-7 in 1998, a season that ended with Scott Zolak as the starting quarterback against Jacksonville in a 25-10 playoff loss. He was 27-21 in three regular seasons with a playoff win over the Dolphins in his first season.

On Tuesday, at Super Bowl media day, Carroll reflected on those days in Foxboro.

“I never lost sight of what the possible opportunities were,” Carroll said. “I never had a thought where something like this couldn’€™t happen. But after getting immersed in the college world, that was everything. That was my whole life, so I lost sight of it a little bit there. But when opportunities came up, I’€™d revisit the thought and then let it go, because they weren’€™t right until the situation happened with Seattle. As soon as Seattle, when we came together on this thought coaching there, this resurfaced. We know that we’€™re where we’€™re intended to be and we’€™re excited about being here.”

“A lot of things were going on that made it difficult for him to stay, some of which were out of his control,” Kraft said at the time, “and it began with following a legend.”

What did he learn from working with Robert and Jonathan Kraft?

“€œI think I learned a lot. I think I learned a lot of things,” Carroll said. “Robert and his family are a great family to play and coach for. But I also learned what it takes for a person like myself to operate at my highest level and I also realized some limitations that were going on that kept me from being the kind of coach I could be. It allowed me to refocus and formalize some plans that I was able to put in at USC and then at the Seahawks.”

Of course, Carroll bridges the two greatest coaches in Patriots history, with Bill Belichick succeeding him in 2000.

Carroll said goodbye to the NFL for 10 years after the 1999 season with the Patriots. He took over the USC program and left that program just before the bottom fell out in 2009 and the school was hit with sanctions by the NCAA for numerous operations infractions, most centering around Reggie Bush.

Now he’s back in New York, where his NFL head coaching career began in 1994 with the Jets, a run that lasted just one season after his 6-10 record.

“€œYou know, I think I do a pretty good job of not doing that,” Carroll said of looking back. “I don’€™t really care about trying to figure out where we are right now, just keep moving forward. Someday we’€™ll look back and that’€™s when you can kind of make an assessment of what’€™s happening.

“€œIt’€™s very special to be here. Look at this event that our players are having to take part of. The game, the matchup, the culmination of the season, all of this is just extraordinary. It goes deeper than that. It goes way back to when we were little kids. There’€™s a lot to it. All in all, we’€™re just going to enjoy the heck out of it and try and play a good football game.”

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Retiring Patriots OL coach Dante Scarnecchia on D&C: ‘The game’s not forever’ 01.24.14 at 9:59 am ET
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Dante Scarnecchia

Dante Scarnecchia

Dante Scarnecchia joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss his decision to retire from his position as a Patriots offensive line coach after 30 years with the team. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Scarnecchia announced his retirement on Wendesday.

“Well, I think it’€™s been something that I’€™ve considered actually over the last couple of years as you get into your 60s and, in my case, into the mid-60s — I’€™m three weeks away from being 66,” Scarnecchia said. “I just said OK.

“I can tell you I could keep going and I feel great and I love the game and all the rest of it. But at some point — and I’ve always told this to the offensive linemen whenever we lost a guy out of our meeting room who we all felt pretty strong about — that the game’€™s not forever. It’€™s not forever for the players and it’€™s not forever for the coaches.”

This past season Scarnecchia was the longest-tenured coach in the NFL after entering the league in 1982 and spending 30 of 32 seasons with New England.

“For some unbelievable and unexplainable reason, when we lost a coach out of here I was able to stay on with the coach that was coming in,” Scarnecchia said. “I don’€™t know how to explain that. When [Bill Parcells] came in here, I did not know Bill Parcells at all. For some reason three guys he was bringing in spoke on my behalf saying, ‘You ought to keep this guy,’ and I was fortunate to be kept on there.

“There were a couple of times where I was able to say — and it was when Parcells went to the Jets and he asked me if I would come along — I said I’ve got this daughter and she’€™s almost out of high school, and I can’€™t do that. I can’€™t do that,” Scarnecchia added.

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Bill Belichick on fumbles: ‘We just can’t overcome those, not for very long’ 11.26.13 at 11:37 am ET
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Bill Belichick is looking for his team to take better care of the ball. (AP)

Bill Belichick is looking for his team to take better care of the ball. (AP)

Are the Patriots reaching a breaking point with Stevan Ridley and his fumbles?

Bill Belichick wouldn’t mention him by name but the coach continues to send a message with benchings against Carolina (18 snaps) and Denver (final 82 snaps of the game) that he can’t have what Ridley even conceded after Sunday’s game is a “sickening” trend with losing the football.

“Ball security is the paramount issue for your football team every week, our football team every week,” Belichick said.

Another reason Belichick didn’t want to mention Ridley by name was the fact that Ridley wasn’t alone. Yes, his fumble led to the 60-yard TD return by Von Miller. But Tom Brady put the ball on the ground twice and so did Julian Edelman (on one play). In all, the Patriots fumbled six times and were rescued somewhat by the fact Denver fumbled five times.

The Patriots were able to overcome it on Sunday night against a future hall of fame quarterback. But that will surely be the recipe for disaster going forward in the cold weather.

“We fumbled the ball, whatever it was, six times,” Belichick said. “We can’t go on like that. We just can’t. There were multiple situations and multiple things involved and it hurt us the week before in Carolina. We’re just not going to be able to overcome turning the ball over, however you turn it over. Whether it’s fumbles or interceptions or muffed punts or tipped interceptions, whatever it is, fumbled snaps – we just can’t overcome those, not for very long.

You might get it for awhile but in the end, it’s just too big an advantage go give to the other team. We have to take better care of the ball. Obviously they had a hard time taking care of it last night too. There were multiple turnovers throughout the game. Certainly the conditions were part of it but in general we have to do a better job of coaching and playing and securing the ball. That includes everybody, everybody who touches it. It’s not limited to one guy, it’s anybody who touches the ball. That’s the center, the quarterback, the running backs, the receivers, the returners, the holders, the kickers, the snappers – everybody. Everybody that touches the ball, we have to take better care of it.”

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Bill Belichick recalls how Bill Parcells taught him how to manage the winds of change 10.28.13 at 12:11 pm ET
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Bill Parcells (left) and Bill Belichick have had a long and successful relationship in the NFL. (AP)

Bill Parcells (left) and Bill Belichick have had a long and successful relationship in the NFL. (AP)

FOXBORO — As the Patriots were facing a third-and-10 at Miami’s 30 yard line with 18 seconds left in the third quarter Sunday, Bill Belichick recalled the 1986 NFC championship game, and a valuable lesson he learned from Bill Parcells.

“I’d say one of the biggest decisions and most critical decisions that I’ve ever been a part of on that was in the 1986 NFC Championship Game against the Redskins,” Belichick recalled Monday in a conference call. “It was a windy day in Giants Stadium. We’ve had many of those and we won the toss and Coach [Bill] Parcells elected to take the wind which wasn’t very common. It wasn’t a very common decision because, let’s face it, you take it in the first quarter you’re not going to have it in the second quarter.

“That was what he decided to do and we were able to really take advantage of that situation against the Redskins. We got three stops and 17 points and we had a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter in part due to the wind, good defense and good offense helped of course. But the field position was huge and that ended up being the final score of the game. That decision, the initial points and the way that the game started really was a huge part of what was reflected in a huge degree to that decision that Bill made. That was a good lesson for me to learn in my career. It was a great decision by Coach Parcells.”

Sunday was another windy day for Belichick, this time with a 20 MPH breeze out of the north and behind the Patriots for 18 more seconds in a tie game. Belichick decided to call the first of his three second half timeouts after second down so he could be assured of holding the wind for the last two plays of the quarter and a potential go-ahead field goal.

Sure enough, third down was an incomplete pass and Stephen Gostkowski was brought on for the 48-yard field goal that would give the Patriots the lead for good. As it turned out, the incompletion probably saved Belichick another timeout. Gostkowski made it easily and Belichick talked about the decision to use the timeout in great detail Monday.

“We were at that point where we were in field goal range but it was a long field goal and it felt like if we changed ends of the field then that field goal range might not be there as evidenced by when we went for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter going into the wind in a similar field position situation,” Belichick said. “When the clock was running there, we wanted to try to give ourselves a chance. Of course in a close game like that, the game was tied at the time, you hate to waste timeouts because they can be valuable at the end, as we’ve seen many times this year, but I felt like it was worth it to be able to have a better opportunity on the kick. Not saying that Steve couldn’t have made it going the other way, I just think it would have been a harder kick based on the conditions that were out there yesterday. Then we threw the incomplete pass and that might have helped us there, because had we completed the pass and not gotten the first down, then that would have been another situation and decision whether to use another timeout to preserve that but fortunately we didn’t have to do that.

“If we had converted, then obviously we would have then gone into the fourth quarter but it would have been closer to the goal line, at least at the start, if we had picked up the first down and then been able to, even if we got stopped, it would have been a kick that I would have felt better about going that direction. It wasn’t just the direction of the wind, there was also significant crosswind that all the specialists had to deal with. Yeah, of course, back to the first days I remember watching football, playing, watching, being a part of it, the wind conditions are always a factor in the kicking game first and then in the passing game.”

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