Tuesday’s announcement of the three finalists for 2020 induction into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame sparked memories of one of the great regular-season home games in the initial year of Robert Kraft’s ownership tenure.
Nov. 13, 1994.
Patriots 26, Vikings 20.
What a comeback!
The Patriots trailed 20-0 in the second quarter. It was 20-3 at halftime. With an air-it-out approach that resulted in quarterback Drew Bledsoe finishing with a remarkable 70 pass attempts, the Patriots roared all the way back to win in overtime.
Football in New England was as alive as it had been in at least a decade. There was hope. A doormat franchise from recent years was on the rise.
The head coach on the sidelines that day, Bill Parcells, was a big reason why.
Fast-forward to the present day.
Similar to what unfolded on the field 26 years ago, Parcells just wrote his own present-day comeback story. His inclusion as a Patriots Hall of Fame finalist this year, along with Richard Seymour (fourth year in a row) and Mike Vrabel (fifth year in a row), revives his candidacy in a way that has never happened since the current voting format began in 2007.
Parcells was a finalist in 2011, 2012 and 2014. He lost in the fan vote to Bledsoe, Troy Brown and Ty Law — three players he drafted. Bledsoe, Brown and Law were all inducted on the first ballot in which they were eligible.
Since that time, Parcells’ candidacy had failed to generate enough momentum to make him a finalist.
Now he’s back.
No candidate has ever had such an extended absence after being a three-time finalist, which speaks to both the strength of his candidacy, but also how polarizing it is to some.
It’s a great comeback.
Just like Nov. 13, 1994 against the Vikings.