Despite the disheartening loss in Super Bowl XLII to the New York Giants, at least there was some good news for Patriots fans this February, 2008. Andre Tippett, one of the best linebackers to ever don a New England Patriots uniform, was finally selected to the Professional Football Hall of Fame. Tippett has been eligible but not made it into the Hall the past few years and I was getting a little worried that he may never get in. I was thrilled that he was elected to the Hall this year. He deserves it.
Andre Tippett was the outside linebacker for the New England Patriots from 1982-1993. During most of his tenure with the Patriots he was considered the “second best” linebacker in the NFL. Of course, the best linebacker in the NFL was Lawrence Taylor, a once in a lifetime talent. So, being second best was a pretty darn good thing but Tippett was a bit overshadowed by Taylor during his career. Tippett, for the most part, also played on a pedestrian team in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
I am a big fan of defensive players so Tippett was one of my favorites. I have two indelible memories of Tippett. The first memory is from the debacle in Super Bowl XX where the Patriots were crushed by the Chicago Bears. Late in the game with Chicago well ahead, William “The Refrigerator” Perry tried a half back option pass! Not wanting further embarrassment, Tippett came up to make the stop. The next year against the Chicago Bears, in a regular season game the Patriots lost, I think, 20-6, Willie Gault, the Bears wide receiver, tried to jump over Tippett. He caught Gault in the air, threw him to the ground, and wagged his finger at him. I don’t know why the second play stands out to me so much given that Tippett made so many great plays in his career, but it’s one that I remember vividly to this day.
Without going into Tippett’s entire biography which can be found at: http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/member.jsp?player_id=268, Tippett recorded 100 career sacks and was named to the NFL’s 1980’s All Decade Team.
Congratulations Andre Tippett, you deserve it.
Now a few notes on the other Hall of Fame entrants.
Two Washington Redskins made the Hall of Fame this year, Darrell Green and Art Monk. Green was shoe in the make the Hall his first year of eligibility. He as one of the best cornerbacks to every play the game and it was a foregone conclusion he would be elected on his first try. He played for the Redskins from 1983-2002. Art Monk, on the other hand, has missed out on being enshrined for several years and I really thought he would never get in. I definitely think Art Monk deserves to be in the Hall. He was one of the most reliable, steady receivers that ever played the game. While he didn’t have blazing speed and wasn’t considered a game breaker, he was a game breaker in that you could always rely on him to get the tough catches over the middle, the tough third down catches, and make the catches that made the difference between winning and losing. Monk’s 940 receptions still ranks 6th on the all-time receptions list. I was really happy to see him get into the Hall of Fame. For the record Monk played for the Redskins from 1980-1993. He also played a non-descript season for the New York Jets and then another for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994 and 1995.
The other three Hall of Fame entrants are:
Fred Dead, defensive end for the San Diego Chargers and San Francisco 49’ers from 1975-1985. He was one of the best pass rushing defensive ends of that era.
Gary Zimmerman, tackle, 1986-1997, played for the Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos. His best years were probably his later ones with Denver from 1993-1997 on a team that consistently had one of the best rushing attacks in the league.
Emmitt Thomas, 1966-1978, cornerback, Kansas City Chiefs. Emmitt Thomas was really before my time in closely watching football but you catch him on the Super Bowl highlights, particularly the Kansas City Chiefs victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV in which he had a great game, including an interception.