|Patriots Hall Finalists|
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Antwine went on to become a dominant run stopper and pass rusher for the Boston Patriots throughout the 1960's in the American Football League. His supremacy in the AFL makes him a perfect nominee for enshrinement into the 2011 Patriots Hall of Fame. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe and Coach Bill Parcells were also nominated. This is Antwine's third nomination.
At the time he was traded to the Patriots, not much could have been expected from Antwine after he was hindered his rookie season because of injuries suffered during the College All Star Game. Despite being drafted by the Oilers as a defensive tackle, he began his career with the Patriots as an offensive guard, but he eventually switched back to defense that same year.
Antwine proved the Patriots received great value from the trade by quickly earning a reputation on defense by displaying tremendous strength and balance in the center of the defensive line. Opposing offenses found Antwine to be a difficult player to block on running plays and he was often double and triple teamed throughout his career.
"He could rush the passer with his great speed," Patriots Hall of Fame kicker/receiver and former teammate Gino Cappelletti said about Antwine. "He was also strong enough to be able to stop the run."
The Buffalo Bills' Pro Football Hall of Fame guard Billy Shaw called Antwine "the best defensive tackle I ever played against."
During his 10 seasons with the Patriots, Antwine was selected to six straight AFL All Star teams (1963 to 1968), tied for the third highest in franchise history. He was the Patriots defensive captain and player representative. He led the team in sacks three straight seasons (1967-69) and finished with 39 sacks in his career, a mark that is ranked tenth on the team's all-time sack list.
He played 142 games with the Patriots, which is 21st all time. He was selected to the Patriots' 10th Anniversary Team (1971); the 35th Anniversary Team (1994), and the Patriots Team of the Century (2000). He was also selected to the All-AFL team.
"I saw him play quite a bit," said former Parcells at a recent press conference with the Boston media. "I thought he was really, really, a tremendous player… Tremendous player and he's one of those guys that I don't think ever got a lot of notoriety, but I can tell you firsthand, he was terrific."
Fans can vote for their favorite Patriots Hall of Fame finalist at the team's official website. Voting ends May 15th
Kevin Saleeba is a frequent contributor and columnist to Patriots Insider. A former beat writer for local media, Kevin has extensive knowledge of the team and experience covering the Patriots. Share your thoughts on this article, or send your questions to Kevin (here. )