Mount Rushmore discussions typically are reserved for the deepest depths of the offseason. But a comment by Cam Newton this week piqued our interest.
In his weekly interview with WEEI’s “Greg Hill Show” on Monday, Newton said veteran receiver Julian Edelman is “a person that?s on Mount Rushmore of Patriots history over the years for everything that he has done and what he represents as a player.”
That got us thinking: Which four players deserve to be on a Patriots Mount Rushmore? And would Edelman be among them?
With all due respect to John Hannah, Andre Tippett and the rest of the franchise’s pre-dynasty stars, we tightened the scope for this particular exercise and limited ourselves to only Bill Belichick-era players. Here was our list of finalists:
(Brown, Bruschi, Faulk, Harrison, Law, Light, McGinest and Seymour all have been elected to the Patriots Hall of Fame. Vrabel has been a finalist in each of the last five years.)
One of the four spots obviously goes to Brady, who quarterbacked the Patriots to each of their six Super Bowl titles. So who deserves the final three?
In our eyes, Gronkowski needs to be on this mountain. He spent nine years in New England, won three Super Bowls and is one of the very best tight ends in NFL history, if not the best. He and Brady both are bound for Canton one day, once they’re done doing their thing in Tampa Bay.
From there, it gets trickier.
Edelman, the second-most productive pass-catcher in NFL postseason history behind Jerry Rice, certainly has a strong case. Fellow slot stars Brown and Welker do, as well, though the latter never winning a Super Bowl probably disqualifies him.
But the Patriots’ early championship teams were built on defense. It’s only fair that two of the four spots are devoted to that side of the ball. Compelling arguments can be made for a number of deserving defenders.
Hightower earned the nickname “Mr. February” for his repeated Super Bowl heroics. Butler delivered one of the most iconic plays in NFL history. Gilmore is the only Patriot ever to win Defensive Player of the Year. McCourty — Pro Bowler at two positions, three-time champion, hardly missed a game in his career — might be one of the most underappreciated players of the Belichick era.
From the earlier dynasty years, Bruschi, McGinest and Harrison are franchise icons. Vrabel starred on both sides of the ball. Wilfork, arguably the most dominant nose tackle of his era, bridged the gap between the 2004 and 2014 championships. Law is a Pro Football Hall of Famer, and Seymour, a Hall of Fame finalist in each of the last two years, should soon join him.
All worthy candidates. But in the end, the Hall of Fame credentials won out for us.
Our final four: Brady, Gronkowski, Law, Seymour.