FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots announced today that center Jon Morris has been selected to the Patriots Hall of Fame by a 10-person senior selection committee. The selection was made on Friday, March 25 and affirmed with a phone call from Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft, who notified Morris of his induction later that afternoon.
"It was overwhelming," said Morris of his reaction to the call from Kraft. "I thought my days were numbered. This announcement came as a complete surprise. I consider this the crowning achievement of my football life and I am so thankful to the Kraft family and the selection committee for allowing me to experience this feeling.
"When I first retired from the Patriots, the alumni were not meant to feel welcome. I don't say that to be critical, it was just different. Once your career was over, it was over. You cannot be a player forever and we understood that. But, when the Kraft family came along, they changed all that. It hasn't been just a one-time thing, either. They have maintained a relationship with the alumni since he bought the team. I just think that is the neatest thing that has ever happened. It is one of the reasons that being in the hall of fame is such a big deal. They have made it a big deal. I give the Krafts all the credit for making the alumni feel so special and I look forward to being a part of this year's hall of fame ceremony."
Morris is the first Patriots Hall of Fame inductee to be selected by the newly formed senior selection committee. Morris will be inducted along with one of the 2011 Patriots Hall of Fame finalists in a ceremony later this year. The three 2011 hall of fame finalists will be revealed online at www.patriots.com on April 15, 2011. Fans will have one month to vote for the finalist they believe is most deserving of hall of fame induction. The Patriots are the only NFL team that includes their fans in the voting process and gives them the responsibility of making the annual selection.
Morris played 11 seasons for the Patriots, appearing in 130 games from 1964-74. He earned seven consecutive All-Star appearances with six AFL-All Star games (1964 through 1969) and was an AFC Pro Bowl center in 1970. His seven league All-Star selections rank second in Patriots history behind Pro Football Hall of Famer John Hannah (9). Morris was the first Patriots' player to be selected to the NFL Pro Bowl. 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. He was also selected in the second round by Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers, but he knew Boston Patriots head coach Mike Holovak and chose to stay in New England to pursue his professional football career. After his playing career, Morris worked as the color commentator on Patriots radio broadcasts from 1979 to 1987, followed by color analysis of NFL games for NBC television. Morris also played for Detroit (1975-77) and Chicago (1978).
A 10-person senior selection committee, consisting of some of the most tenured Patriots beat writers and staff, was approved by Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft to ensure that early-era players who are deserving of Patriots Hall of Fame induction are given that consideration.
The committee met last Friday for the first time in the fifth year of the new induction process to discuss early-era candidates for the Patriots Hall of Fame. Induction of a candidate is not automatic or mandatory and is limited to no more than one inductee each meeting. Candidates must be retired for at least 25 years to be eligible for senior selection committee consideration. Previous finalists for the Patriots Hall of Fame who have been retired for at least 25 years are automatically eligible for consideration. If there are less than three previous hall of fame finalists who qualify in any given year, the senior selection committee will be allowed to nominate other qualifying players who are deserving of the consideration. The early-era candidate must be approved by a minimum vote of 80 percent of the senior selection committee to be inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
Since 2007, a committee consisting of media, staff and alumni has gathered annually to discuss Patriots players who are eligible and deserving of hall of fame induction. Any player or head coach who has been out of the NFL for at least four years is eligible. Once the presentations are completed, the committee votes and the top three candidates, based on total points, are presented as that year's nominations for hall of fame induction. Fans are then given an opportunity to vote for the player they feel is most deserving of the team's highest honor. The top vote getter receives that honor and a formal induction ceremony is held just outside The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon during the football season.