Big Ten Conference NCAA Rutgers

Could Patriots’ Devin McCourty be Rutgers’ first Pro Football Hall of Famer?


Tom Brady’s Super Bowl win with the Buccaneers has led to much introspection in New England. Among the topics pondered by The Boston Globe’s Chad Finn: Why has the Patriots’ dynasty — at least so far — been under-represented in the Pro Football Hall of Fame?

Finn’s take: Fans should be patient. Defensive tackle Richard Seymour, a finalist for induction the last three years, will get in soon. Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Adam Vinatieri are locks once eligible. And there are a slew of other Patriots who will be in contention in future years, including former Rutgers star Devin McCourty.

“It just takes time,” Finn writes. “Donnie Shell, star safety for the Steel Curtain Steelers, retired after the 1987 season. He made the Hall of Fame in 2020. I suspect the Patriots version of him will be Devin McCourty.”

If so, McCourty would become the first Scarlet Knight to make it to Canton. But while it’s possible his strong career and importance to three Super Bowl wins in four trips could eventually earn him a gold jacket, it is a big leap to take. McCourty has been a very good NFL player, but the Hall of Fame exists to honor the greatest players. Save a late-career surge, McCourty will have a tough time measuring up to that grade.

McCourty has been to two Pro Bowls, earned three Second Team All-Pro nods and won three Super Bowls. The four safeties recently elected to the Hall of Fame — Brian Dawkins, John Lynch, Troy Polamalu and Ed Reed — all went to at least eight Pro Bowls and earned at least two First Team All-Pro nods, not to mention a slew of second team honors. Only Dawkins failed to win a ring, too. They also had significantly higher Approximate Value ratings than McCourty is on pace to finish his career with.

Former Packers star LeRoy Butler, who many believe should be the next safety to make it in, would also rate ahead of McCourty with four Pro Bowls and four First Team All-Pro appearances.

In fact, there is a very strong argument — and we’ve made it — that Deron Cherry has the better Rutgers Hall of Fame case. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and three-time First Team All-Pro with a pair of second-team appearances as well. But even that resume is likely still too light for Cherry.

McCourty is definitely Rutgers’ second-greatest NFL player, and by the end of his career he may have moved to No. 1. But Canton seems to be just out of his reach, no matter how many rings he helped the Patriots win.

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James Kratch may be reached at jkratch@njadvancemedia.com.

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