FOXBORO - The process for adding another member to the Patriots' Hall of Fame has begun.
A select committee of 19 writers, broadcasters, term personnel and former players met Thursday at Skipjack's restaurant at Patriot Place to vote for the three nominees that will appear on this year's online ballot. Fans will make the final decision by voting on patriots.com.
Since the process began in 2007, the fans have voted wide receiver Stanley Morgan, tight end Ben Coates, running backs Jim Nance and Sam Cunningham, quarterback Drew Bledsoe and receiver-returner Troy Brown into the Patriots' Hall of Fame. Team owner Robert Kraft added founding owner Billy Sullivan and long-time play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos to the list as contributors, and a senior selection committee added center Jon Morris in 2011.
Among those nominated for enshrinement Thursday was a trio of players eligible for the first time - linebacker Tedy Bruschi, linebacker-defensive end Willie McGinest and safety Rodney Harrison. Past coaches Chuck Fairbanks (who died Tuesday) and Bill Parcells (inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this past season) were also nominated, as were running back Ron Burton, safety Fred Marion, cornerback Raymond Clayborn and tackle Leon Gray. Burton, Parcells and Marion have been past finalists in the fan voting.
The committee debated the merits of their nominees for about 90 minutes before taking a secret ballot. Stacey James, the Patriots' vice president of media relations, will tally the results and plans to announce the three finalists on April 15.
Once the finalists are announced, fans will be able to vote on the team's website for their favorite for about a month's time. The winner will be formally inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in a ceremony on the weekend prior to an upcoming game.
The committee consisted of Patriots' research director Ernie Adams, Ron Borges of the Boston Herald, Dick Cerasuolo of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette (retired), Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal, Mark Farinella of The Sun Chronicle, Glen Farley of The Enterprise of Brockton, Ron Hobson of The Patriot Ledger (retired), Carlo Imelio of the Springfield Union-News (retired), retired play-by-play announcer Gil Santos, Howard Ulman of the Associated Press, Chris Price of WEEI.com, Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com, Paul Perillo of Patriots Football Weekly, Matt Smith of Patriots All Access, Steve Burton of WBZ, Mike Lynch of WCVB, John Hendry of the Patriots' statistical staff, Bryan Morry of The Hall at Patriot Place and Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett.
The committee also paused in its deliberations to honor the memories of Fairbanks and team equipment manager Don Brocher of Norton, a member of the nominating committee and the team's longest-tenured employee, who died in January.