AP NEWS

Patriots Hall of Fame finally calls for Raymond Clayborn

May 23, 2017

When Raymond Clayborn got the call from Robert Kraft that he would be a Patriots Hall of Famer, the former cornerback was taken aback.

Clayborn had been a finalist for the honor the last three years, but even though he was on the ballot for a fourth straight year, he didn’t seem to think this would be the year.

But Clayborn was able to break through a string of Patriots Super Bowl winners. After getting beaten out by Ty Law in 2014, then Willie McGinest in 2015 and Kevin Faulk last year, Clayborn edged Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel for this year’s honor.

“(Kraft) said a few things. He said, ‘Raymond, you were the guy that we picked this year,’ or something like that, and then he kept talking,” Clayborn recalled of his phone call from the Patriots owner. “And then I had to ask him, ‘You’re telling me that I won the vote against Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel?’ ”

Clayborn believed he had a chance to make the Pats Hall of Fame, but he thought the success of the early 2000s teams would put his bid on hold at least another year.

“I felt really good about it,” he said. “They had two excellent guys that were also nominated with me, and I keep reverting back to the Super Bowls, and the previous years when I was a candidate, it had always gone to one of those guys, and I thought the same thing was going to happen again, but I was totally surprised and very happy.”

His credentials certainly make him worthy for the honor. Clayborn, who now resides in Katy, Texas, was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 1977 and played 13 seasons for the team. He was a three-time Pro Bowl player. He was one of the biggest contributors for what was then the franchise’s first taste of success.

In his 13 years, he helped the Patriots to 10 winning seasons, which included a run to Super Bowl XX. He was a member of the Patriots’ 1970s and 1980s all-decade teams and set a franchise record by playing in 161 consecutive games. His greatest feat, though, was setting the franchise record for interceptions with 36 picks.

Clayborn refused to consider himself as the record holder. In his eyes, Law, who tied his mark in 2004, is the Pats’ interception king.

“Realistically, Ty’s last season with the Patriots, he was injured after he tied it, and I believe he would have broken it if he hadn’t been injured,” Clayborn said. “So, I look at him officially as the guy that holds that record if he hadn’t been injured, he would have it. But I am proud of being tied with Ty Law, who I think belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”

Either way, Clayborn is now a Pats Hall of Famer.

It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for him and his family, who celebrated his daughter’s graduation from Howard University and his son’s high school graduation.

“We’re all happy. It’s something that we thought I should have gone in a lot sooner than I have, but we’re just all happy here,” Clayborn said. “Busy couple of weeks, so this caps it off and we’re all happy about it.”

NFL passes on Revis

The NFL said cornerback Darrelle Revis will not face discipline after he was arrested for a fight in Pittsburgh in February.

Revis faced four felony counts, including aggravated assault and other charges alleging he was in a fight with two men, but those charges were dismissed in March by a Pittsburgh judge.

The 31-year-old Revis was released by the Jets in March shortly after the NFL’s free agency period began. The Jets still owe him $6 million as part of the $39 million in guarantees in the five-year, $70 million deal he signed with New York in 2015. He also played seasons for the Buccaneers and Patriots.

Donald skips OTAs

All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald skipped the Los Angeles Rams’ first day of organized team activities while he negotiates a long-term contract extension with the club.

Rams general manager Les Snead said the team knew Donald wouldn’t be at their training complex, and he isn’t worried about a long-term absence for the anchor of Los Angeles’ defense. Donald already is under contract through 2018. . . .

Tight end O.J. Howard signed his rookie contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Howard, who was the 19th overall pick in last month’s NFL draft, signed a four-year deal on that includes a team option for a fifth season. . . .

Wide receiver Devin Smith was waived from the injury list by the Jets.

A second-round draft pick from Ohio State in 2015, Smith rarely saw the field for New York. He tore his ACL during the offseason workout program after he appeared in four games last season.