When I was a kid, long before the advent of the Boston Sports Millennium, we had to search out the bright spots of our fandom. One of these was Andre Tippett. A ferocious pass rusher who would eventually - and rightfully - make his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tippett was an outside linebacker in the mold and class of Lawrence Taylor, Rickey Jackson, and Derrick Thomas. During his eleven seasons with the Patriots he recorded 100 sacks, was a five-time Pro Bowler, and was league defensive player of the year in 1985 when he helped lead New England to their first Super Bowl.
Tippett was one of those dominant creatures on the football field that everyone knew could take over at any moment. In those lean years, he was the guy we looked to for individual accolades when team success was so elusive. After a playoff berth following the 1988 season, the 1989 Pats lost three defensive starters for the year in a single preseason game, including Tippett. That 1989 team secured just five wins, starting a five-year span in which the team would earn a total of just fifteen wins.
Tippett would retire after the 1993 campaign, during which he had 8.5 sacks (including 1.5 in his final NFL game). Along with Steve Grogan, he was my first favorite on the Patriots, and to this day he remains arguably the best defensive player in team history. Given the talent that has been on that side of the ball for the Patriots over the last 20 years (Law, McGinest, Bruschi, Wilfork, Seymour, etc.), that’s saying something. Heck, he’s still in the conversation for top-five Patriots of all time.
He’s also a black belt in karate and in the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.