The New England Patriots have always been a team that doesn’t disappoint their fans. The team, sharing the honor with the Pittsburgh Steelers, holds the NFL record for most Super Bowl wins. The boys have brought back the Lombardi Trophy six times, the most recent of these being in 2019 in a battle against the Los Angeles Rams that, victory though it was, lacked the high point-scoring of some of the other Super Bowl thrillers the team has been in.
As far as fans are concerned, Bill Belichick is doing a handsome job of leading the team. However, the Patriots are considered to be outsiders to make the playoffs in the NFL betting markets, so Belichick will have to work his magic to ensure the season is a success.
But the team has likewise enjoyed the service of some truly outstanding players in its time. This post looks back at some of the finest players to have ever stepped out onto the grid for the Patriots.
Tom Brady (quarterback)
Perhaps one of the greatest privileges the Patriots have had is that of being able to field Tom Brady, who may well be the best quarterback there has ever been. Brady served the Patriots from 2000 to 2019, before switching to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 2020 season.
Despite being 44 years old now, he’s still putting in solid performances on the grid. So far, Brady has been on the winning side at the Super Bowl a record seven times. Six of these wins have come while he was serving the Patriots. A true legend.
John Hannah (offensive guard)
John “Hog” Hannah is another player who has received an “of all time” attribute, this time as the best offensive linesman of all time. The guard helped the Patriots win their first AFC title and make it to their first Super Bowl in 1985.
“Hog” was an outstanding pass protector and run blocker, and during the mid to late 1970s, he formed part of the best guard/tackle partnership in the NFL with tackle Leon Gray. He was fiercely committed to his team, playing for them from 1973 to 1985, and could get quite angry with his teammates at times.
Hannah is a nine-time Pro Bowler, and has earned himself a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Patriots Hall of Fame. He was the first player to achieve the latter feat, which he did in 1991. Well deserved.
Rob Gronkowski (tight end)
Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski was the best tight end to ever set foot on the grid, some say. Although he was prone to injury, he was magic when he was on the field.
Gronkowski served the Patriots from 2010 to 2018. He linked up well with Tom Brady, showing highly reliable hands. Brady’s passing rating has been higher when targeting “Gronk” during his career than any other player, and “Gronk’s” recorded is only lightly blemished by fumbles.
“Gronk” helped the Patriots to three of their Super Bowl wins and amassed 521 receptions, 7, 861 years and 80 touchdowns (79 receiving and 1 rushing) with the team. An immense contribution.
Stanley Morgan (wide receiver)
Today, Stanley Morgan spends his days in Memphis, Tennessee, and works for Federal Express, but in his playing days, the Patriots employed him as a wide receiver. On the team’s website, they state that he was arguably the greatest wide receiver in the team’s history.
Morgan played for 13 seasons with the Patriots (1977-89) before moving to the Indianapolis Colts in 1990 for one more season. In his time with New England, he amassed 534 receptions; 10,352 yards; 67 touchdowns; and 19.4 yards per catch. He’s also a four-time Pro Bowler.
Morgan’s stats on the grid set a club record. In 2007, he received an induction into the Patriots Hall of Fame, and he’s still well remembered for his achievements with the Patriots. Rightly so. What a contribution.
Troy Brown (wide receiver)
Troy Brown took some time to establish himself and served the Patriots from 1993 to 2007. When Bill Belichick joined the team in 2000, Brown got his big chance to prove what he could do. Belichick started him in all 16 games of the 2000 and 2001 season — and Brown made the most of that opportunity, putting in a solid contribution for the team.
Like “Gronk”, Brown provided quarterback Tom Brady with a highly reliable option and, in this regard, is especially remembered for his link-up play with Brady in the final minutes of Super Bowl XXXVI.
Another example of their link-up play was against the San Diego Chargers in the 2006 season. Brown made a crucial tackle on Marlon McCree, who had intercepted a pass from Brady, and retrieved the ball. The Patriots would go on to win 24-21.
But Brown wasn’t just an offensive player. From 2002 to 2007, he demonstrated amazing versatility. Defensive players had been dropping like flies, so the team called upon Brown to step into the role of cornerback when required. Transitioning at the top level is never easy, but Brown did so with aplomb, creating options for the team.
The Patriots have recruited some incredible players who have rewarded the club’s faith in them by performing immense feats on the grid and helping the club to glory. Coach Bill Belichick has been tremendous, and with him leading the team, Super Bowl glory is always a realistic possibility.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary