By SHALISE MANZA YOUNG
Journal Sports Writer
The Patriots have announced the three men selected as finalists for this year's inductee into the franchise's Hall of Fame.
Tight end Ben Coates, center Jon Morris and running back Jim Nance were chosen by a 23-person nomination panel made up of local media, Pats' alumni and team employees as the most deserving candidates this year.
Now it will be up to the fans to decide which player becomes the 13th member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame; it is expected that this year's induction ceremony will be held inside the Hall at Patriot Place, which is currently under construction.
Voting began today at www.patriots.com , and will continue through July 4. Only one vote per e-mail address can be cast.
Here's a bit about each player from the press release:
Ben Coates played for the Patriots for nine seasons, appearing in 142 games from 1991-99. His 50 total touchdowns rank second in team history; his 490 receptions rank third; and his 5,471 receiving yards place fourth. Coates was the Patriots’ leading receiver five times in a six-year span from 1993-98, and his 96 catches in 1994 set a team record at the time. Coates was selected to five consecutive Pro Bowls from 1994-98. He was selected by the Patriots in the fifth round of the 1991 NFL Draft (124th overall) out of Livingstone College.
Jon Morris played for the Patriots for 11 seasons, appearing in 130 games from 1964-74. He earned seven consecutive American Football League All-Star appearances from 1964-70, and his seven league All-Star selections ranks second in Patriots history behind Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah (9). Morris anchored an offensive line that opened holes for Jim Nance to amass a team-record 45 rushing touchdowns from 1965-71. He was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 1964 American Football League Draft out of Holy Cross.
Jim Nance played for the Patriots for seven seasons, appearing in 94 games from 1965-71. His 45 rushing touchdowns are a franchise record, while his 5,323 rushing yards place second in team history. He was the American Football League’s Most Valuable Player in 1966, leading the league with 1,458 rushing yards - the highest single-season total in the AFL’s 10-year history and a mark that stood as a Patriots record for 20 years. Nance was the AFL’s leading rusher again in 1967, totaling 1,216 yards. He was selected by the Patriots in the 19th round of the 1965 American Football League Draft out of Syracuse.