Over the weekend, the New England Patriots released some sad news, announcing that team dentist and former center Bill Lenkaitis passed away on Saturday at the age of 70 following a battle with brain cancer.
A Penn State Nittany Lion, Lenkaitis was drafted in the secound round of the 1968 AFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers, playing his first three seasons there before moving onto the Patriots for the next 11 seasons.
Lenkaitis’ most notable achievement came in the Patriots historic 1978 season where he assisted on an offensive line that helped produce the most rushing yards in a single season at 3,165, a record that still stands today. He was a mainstay on the line for the Patriots, starting 119 games over his career and appearing in 151.
Lenkaitis earned a dental degree from the University of Tennesssee while still actively playing football and opened his own private practice in Foxboro for the past 40 years following retirement, while also servicing the Patriots dental needs.
Patriots owner Rober Kraft shared his thoughts on Lenkaitis’ passing;
“Bill centered one of the greatest offensive lines, not just in franchise history, but in NFL history…As a season ticket holder during his playing days, I was a fan of the player he was on the field. But, in my 22 years of ownership, I became an even bigger fan of the person he was off the field. He was a big man with an even bigger personality and a huge heart. As a Patriots alumnus, he remained active in our communities and regularly volunteered to support out Foundation’s many initiatives. He was a great Patriots ambassador and he will be missed. We extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and former teammates.”
Sad to read that Dr Bill Lenkaitis, a noble Patriot center, has passed away. Like Jim Lonborg, he was a well-known dentist.
— Bob Ryan (@GlobeBobRyan) August 28, 2016
So sorry to hear of the passing of Bill Lenkaitis. Rest in peace, brother
— Fred Smerlas (@FredSmerlas) August 29, 2016
Sincerest sympathies to family, friends and former teammates of Bill Lenkaitis who played 11 seasons for the Patriots.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 28, 2016
More Patriots News Headlines: