Temperatures were unseasonably low and skies overcast, but spirits were nonetheless high and smiles bright for the induction of Raymond Clayborn into the Patriots Hall of Fame this past Saturday. The 1970s- and ‘80s-era cornerback had been a finalist three times before, but on his fourth attempt, Clayborn appropriately became the 26th person honored with this annual distinction, as he wore jersey No. 26 during his Patriots career.
At the start of the midday ceremony, a moment of silence was observed for one of the original Patriots, quarterback Vito “Babe” Parilli, who died earlier this month. Then, a few dozen former Patriots, including several Patriots Hall of Famers, joined thousands of fans packing the NRG Plaza outside the Patriots Hall of Fame, as well as the steps leading up to Patriot Place, to be part of Clayborn’s long-awaited moment in the spotlight.
Drafted by the Patriots in the first round (16th overall) out of the University of Texas in 1977, Clayborn eventually became one of the game’s best at the position, earning three Pro Bowl honors (1983, ‘85, and ‘86). A native of Fort Worth, Texas, he went on to set a franchise record with 36 career interceptions, a milestone which fellow Patriots Hall inductee Ty Law tied equaled in 2004. Clayborn also excelled as a kickoff returner during his 13-year Patriots career, something Patriots owner Robert Kraft touched upon during his introductory remarks.
Kraft recalled watching from the stands of what was then called Schaefer Stadium as Clayborn returned three kickoffs for touchdowns in his rookie season.
“I can’t believe that was 40 years ago,…
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