Commentary

Linebacker Andre Tippett: In the words of...

Originally Published: August 1, 2008
By Chris Conetzkey

Andre TippettManny Rubio/NFL/Getty ImagesAndre Tippett, a pass-rushing linebacker, had 16.5 sacks to lead the AFC in 1985.

Teammate Steve Nelson
Nelson, a three-time Pro Bowl linebacker who played on the left side with Tippett, on how his teammate's knowledge of martial arts helped make him a dominant defender:

"Oh, he was a black belt, I don't know what discipline, but he was the real deal. He was just a nightmare matchup for an offensive lineman because of his quickness ... Put together all that ability with his desire to be the best, that is why he made as many plays as he did. I think he was probably one of the first guys that was really into the martial arts, which helped him gain leverage, know his body, and be able to get his opponent off balance. I think he was probably the best at it."

Truly One Of The Greats

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Opponent Dwight Stephenson
Former Miami Dolphins center Stephenson on the unique challenge of matching up against Tippett:

"We always wanted to know where he was. When you are trying to protect the quarterback, sometimes our free man we would always use to keep an eye on him because you know he is the guy that can give an offensive lineman a lot of problems.

"I remember one time he came over by me at the center position, and it was a relatively easy block for me. He was rushing the passer, and I felt pretty good. But the guy got under me and gave me a heck of a run. The next time, I was really geared for him, and again he gave me a lot of problems. I tried to cut him, but he was too difficult to knock off his feet."

Andre Tippett
Tippett on his career being compared to that of Hall of Fame New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor:

"Well, you know, I think that at every step that we all have gone through in high school football, college, we've all had somebody that you look to, as, 'OK, this is a guy that's considered to be the very best at the position. OK, well, what do I need to do to be considered or mentioned in the same breath.'

"It's a known fact that I've been referred to as the LT of the AFC -- or AT is the LT of the AFC -- to me, it's all the same. I have so much respect for Lawrence Taylor. I think what he did, he opened a lot of doors for a lot of other guys to come into the league. Guys were measured up against him. We want to get us an LT, we want to get us an Andre Tippett, we want to run a 3-4 defense. I think it was just like any great running back -- they look at the other great running backs, what running style have they done, how can I emulate that.

Steve Nelson
Alan Schwartz/NFL Photos/Getty ImagesSteve Nelson twice went to the Pro Bowl with his left-side counterpart Andre Tippett.
"He was an amazing athlete, and I have nothing but respect for Lawrence Taylor, and I think that when it's all said and done, I think it just goes down as Lawrence Taylor was one of the greatest and Andre Tippett was one of the greats and one of the greatest, so it really doesn't matter now because we are all in the same place."

A Story

Nelson on how Tippett's reaction following a loss that dropped their 1985 Patriots team to 2-3 helped the squad rebound to rattle off six straight wins:

"The year we went to the Super Bowl we got beat by Cleveland and after the game …he really went nuts.

"It was because he was sick of losing. He realized it was a team that had a lot of talent and we just weren't playing up to our ability, but we went on a little run after that, and got into the playoffs, and then into the Super Bowl. But I think that whole run was started by Andre's little tirade after the Cleveland Browns game. It woke a lot of guys up. Some guys talk and nobody listens, but when Andre talked, because he didn't do a lot of it, people listened."