The 10 Greatest New England Patriots
I saw a list of the 10 greatest Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders on NFL.com last week and it really got me thinking about my favorite team the New England Patriots.
So I sat down and tried to come up with a list of the ten greatest players in the franchises history. It was tough but I finally narrowed it down to 10.
The following players just missed the cut but deserved an honorable mention.
10. Steve Grogan
NFL Draft:: 1975 / Round: 5 / Pick: 116
Years with the Patriots: 1975-1990
Stats: TD-INT 182-208 - 26,886 passing yards - QB Rating: 69.6
While he never posted monster stats or won any awards most considered Steve Grogan the face of the franchise in the '70s and '80s. Grogan started out as a backup quaterback but ended up supplanting former Heisman winner Jim Plunkett as the starter.
He set an NFL record for most rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in a season in 79 with 12.
By 1985 Grogan had been replaced as the starter by Tony Eason. He replaced in Eason in the second quarter of Super Bowl XX against the Chicago Bears.
Grogan went on to connect on 17 of 30 passes for 177 yards in the 46-10 loss. He battled with Eason, Doug Flutie, and Marc Wilson for starting job the rest of his time in New England.
9. Troy Brown
NFL Draft : 1993 / Round: 8 / Pick: 198
Years with the Patriots: 1993-2007
Stats: 557 receptions - 6,336 receiving yards - 31 touchdown catches
252 punt returns - 2,625 return yards - 3 touchdown returns
Awards: Pro Bowl Selection (2001) - Three-time Super Bowl Champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX)
Never a star but one of the most versatile players in franchise history. Troy Brown is the New England Patriots all-time leading receiver and punt returner.
Brown was a member of Bill Parcells New England Patriots team that lost Super Bowl XXXI in 1996 and he would go on to play for four more Super Bowl teams while in Foxboro.
Brown was used mostly as a returner and slot receiver until 2001 when he caught 101 passes and helped lead the Patriots to their first championship in Super Bowl XXXVI.
In 2004 he had only 17 receptions, but contributed in what was originally an emergency role on defense, tying for the team lead with three pass interceptions.
His contributions in the secondary helped New England win Super Bowl XXXIX and become a dynasty.
8. Mike Haynes
NFL Draft : 1976 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Years with the Patriots: 1976-1982
Stats: 28 pass interceptions
111 kick returns - 1,159 return yards - 3 return touchdowns
Awards: 6 x Pro Bowl selection (1976,1977,1978,1979,1980,1982) - 3 x All Pro selection (1977,1978,1982) - 1976 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year - NFL 1980s All-Decade Team
Mike Haynes was one of the most dominant athletes in the history of the franchise. Haynes was the NFL's top cornerback from the late '70s to the mid-80s and was also a dynamic return man.
Haynes was considered by many to be the Patriots first superstar but Haynes grew tired of playing for one of the NFLs least successful teams at the time.
Haynes played out his option with the Patriots in 1982, and in November, 1983, his contract was rewarded to the Los Angeles Raiders in a settlement that gave the Patriots a No. 1 draft choice in 1984 and a No. 2 pick in 1985.
Mike Haynes went on to have continued success with the Raiders and won a Super Bowl with the silver and black.
7. Ben Coates
NFL Draft : 1991 / Round: 5 / Pick: 124
Years with the Patriots: 1991-1999
Stats: 490 receptions - 5,471 receiving yards - 50 touchdown catches
Awards: 5 x Pro Bowl selection (1994,1995,1996,1997,1998) - 3 x All Pro selection (1994,1995,1998) - NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
Ben Coates holds all the receiving records for a tight end in New England Patriots team history. He combined with QB Drew Bledsoe to form one of the best passing combinations of the 90's.
In 1994, Coates set what was a record for a tight end with 96 pass receptions (which was later broken by Tony Gonzalez twice). He was a member of Bill Parcells New England Patriots team that lost Super Bowl XXXI to the Green Bay Packers in 1996.
Coates was released from the Patriots in early 2000 shortly after Bill Belichick became head coach. He went on to the Baltimore Ravens where he backed up Shannon Sharpe and helped win Super Bowl XXXV in 2000.
6. Tedy Bruschi
NFL Draft : 1996 / Round: 3 / Pick: 86
Years with the Patriots: 1996-current
Stats: 1,110 career tackles - 30.5 sacks - 12 pass interceptions
Awards: 2 x Pro Bowl Selection (2003,2004) - 3 x Super Bowl champion (XXXVI,XXXVIII,XXXIX) - 2005 NFL Comeback Player of the Year
Tedy Bruschi is one of the NFLs true warriors. He has anchored five New England Patriots Super Bowl teams. On Feb. 16, 2005 Bruschi suffered a mild stroke and suffered from partial paralysis.
Bruschi announced he would sit out the 2005 season due to the injury. On Oct. 29, 2005 he was activated and started against the Buffalo Bills, coming back to help the New England defense which had suffered several injuries at linebacker.
After the game Bruschi was announced AFC Defensive Player of the Week after his first game back. Even though his time is running short Bruschi still anchors the inside of New England's defense.
5. Andre Tippett
NFL Draft : 1982 / Round: 2 / Pick: 41
Years with the Patriots: 1982-1993
Stats: 756 career tackles - 100 career sacks
Awards: 5 x Pro Bowl selection (1984,1985,1986,1987,1989) - 4 x All Pro selection (1984,1985,1986,1987) - NFL 1980s All-Decade team - 2008 Inducted into Hall of Fame
Andre Tippett was one of the best pass rushers of the 80's and of all time. He is New England's all time sack leader with 100 career sacks. His 35 sacks in the '84-'85 seasons are the most sacks ever by a linebacker over two seasons.
He was a member of the New England Patriots team that lost Super Bowl XX to the Chicago Bears. Tippett is currently fourth all time in sacks by a linebacker trailing Lawrence Taylor, Kevin Greene, and Derrick Thomas.
4. Drew Bledsoe
NFL Draft : 1993 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
Years with the Patriots: 1993-2001
Stats: TD-INT 166-138 - 29,657 passing yards - QB rating 75.9
Awards: Three-time Pro Bowl selection (1994,1996,1997) - two-time All Pro (1994,1996) Super Bowl champion (XXXVI)
Drew Bledsoe was the face of the New England Patriots in the 90's. When he led Bill Parcells Patriot team to Super Bowl XXXI he became the biggest star in team history.
That all changed after Bledsoe was injured in Week Two of the 2001 season and Tom Brady took the starting job from there on out. Bledsoe relieved an injured Brady in the AFC Championship game and lead the Patriots to a win to advance to Super Bowl XXXVI.
Bledsoe was traded to the Buffalo Bills after the 2001 season, and he would also play for the Dallas Cowboys.
3. Ty Law
NFL Draft : 1995 / Round:1 / Pick: 23
Years with the Patriots: 1995-2004
Stats: 727 tackles - 5 sacks - 36 pass interceptions
Awards: 4 x Pro Bowl selection (1998,2001,2002,2003) - 2 x All Pro selection (1998,2003) - Super Bowl champion (XXXVI,XXXVIII,XXXIX)
Ty Law is considered one of if not the best cornerback of the past decade. His physical style allowed the Patriots to field some of the NFL's best defenses during his time in Foxboro.
His interception of Kurt Warner in Super Bowl XXXVI is considered the play that swung the game towards the pats.
He also intercepted Peyton Manning three times in the 2003 AFC Championship game helping advance the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Even after leaving the Patriots after a bitter contract squabble before the 2005 season, Ty Law is still beloved in Foxboro.
2. John Hannah
NFL Draft : 1973 / Round:1 / Pick: 4
Years with the Patriots: 1973-1985
Awards: 9 x Pro Bowl selection (1976,1977,1978,1979,1980,1981,1982,1984,1985) - 10 x All Pro selection (1976,1977,1978,1979,1980,1981,1982,1983,1984,1985) - NFL 1970s All-Decade Team - NFL 1980s All-Decade Team - 1991 inducted into NFL Hall of Fame
John Hannah was once called "The Best Offensive Lineman of all Time" by Sports Illustrated. Most consider Hannah at least the best guard the league has ever seen if not the best lineman overall. His nine Pro Bowl selections are more than any other New England Patriot.
1. Tom Brady
NFL Draft : 2000 / Round: 6 / Pick: 199
Years with the Patriots: 2000-present
Stats: TD-INT - 197-86 - 26,446 passing yards - QB rating 91.6
Awards: 4 x Pro Bowl selection (2002,2004,2005,2007) 2 x All Pro selection (2005,2007) - 2007 AP NFL MVP - 2007 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year - 2 x Super Bowl MVP (XXXVI,XXXVIII) - 3 x Super Bowl champion (XXXVI,XXXVIII,XXXIX)
The greatest quarterback and player in New England Patriots history. Before his career is said and done Tom Brady may be remembered as the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
At age 31 he's already won three Super Bowl titles and came within seconds of winning a fourth in 2007 before a late drive by the Giants ended his quest. In 2007, Brady also set an NFL record by throwing for 50 touchdown passes and the 2007 New England Patriots became the highest scoring team in NFL history.
A knee injury wiped out Brady's '08 season before it could begin but he will probably bounce back strong in '09. With all the Patriots offseason moves, I have a feeling Brady will be hoisting a fourth Lombardi Trophy come this January.