Andre Tippett New England Patriots
"When it comes to linebackers, I’m the man. I’ve worked hard, and I believe that right now I’m the top linebacker in the league."
The New England Patriots selected Andre Tippett in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft. Used primarily on special teams during his strike-shortened rookie season, Tippett earned a starter’s berth beginning in 1983. That year the 6’3”, 240-pound linebacker set the stage for things to come by recording a team-leading 8.5 sacks. The following season he established a new team record for sacks with 18.5 and earned his first of five consecutive invitations to the Pro Bowl (1985-1989).
In 1985, the Patriots, for the first time in team history, advanced to the Super Bowl. A major contributing factor to the team’s success was Tippett’s outstanding defensive play. That year he led the AFC in sacks with 16.5 (second in the NFL), recorded three forced fumbles and recovered three fumbles, one of which he returned 25 yards for a touchdown. In four postseason games, he recorded 21 tackles and a sack. His outstanding play earned him All-Pro, Pro Bowl and AFC Defensive Player of the Year honors (NEA, UPI).
Tippett was off to another great start in 1986, when during the ninth game he injured his right knee which required surgery. At the time his 9.5 sacks was second in the NFL. Determined, he returned to the lineup for the final two regular season games and the team’s one playoff appearance. Even though he missed five games, he still earned All-AFC and All-Pro Second Team honors, and was named to a third consecutive Pro Bowl.
Although the Patriots dropped to 8-7 in 1987, Tippett’s play remained at full throttle. His 12.5 sacks were again an AFC best and were second only to the NFC’s Reggie White.
Injuries slowed the hard-hitting linebacker in 1988 causing him to miss four games and a shoulder injury sidelined him for the entire 1989 season. Although his sack total in 1990 dropped to 3.5 in 13 games played, he still proved he was a dominant force, turning in several impressive performances including one against the New York Giants in which he recorded 10 tackles and a forced fumble.
He remained a dominant player with the Patriots right through his final season in 1993. When he retired, his 100 career sacks, 18.5 sacks in a season, and 17 opponents fumble recovered were team bests.
Tippett, a five-time All-AFC selection, was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1980s.