Brady, Bruschi, Brown Lead Unofficial 50th Anniversary Patriots Team


Brady, Bruschi, Brown Lead Unofficial 50th Anniversary Patriots Team With the New England Patriots celebrating their 50th anniversary this season, it’s time to anoint the best who have ever donned the uniform. I took the liberty of adding a couple of my own twists, and each player is listed alongside his tenure in New England. Without further ado, here is my 50th anniversary team.

Quarterback: Tom Brady
(2000-present). With one more Super Bowl ring, it’d be tough not to call Brady the best quarterback of all time.

Backup quarterback: Steve Grogan (1975-1990). He’s the only backup I’ve put on this list, but any collection of the greatest Patriots ever has to involve Grogan.

Running back: Jim Nance (1965-71). The newest Patriots Hall of Famer had the best rushing season in AFL history during his MVP campaign in 1966.

Fullback: Sam Gash
(1992-97). He was a Bill Parcells guy who helped epitomize the team’s resurgence in the 1990s.

Wide receiver: Randy Moss (2007-present). It’s been a short tenure in New England, but with his pedigree and one of the greatest seasons in history under his belt, Moss has cemented his place here.

Wide receiver: Gino Cappelletti (1960-70). Cappelletti is the Patriots’ godfather.

Tight end: Ben Coates (1991-99). A significant reason for quarterback Drew Bledsoe’s success, Coates retired with 490 receptions and 50 touchdowns with the Patriots.

Tackle: Bruce Armstrong (1987-2000). One of only three players in NFL history to play for the same team in three different decades.

Tackle: Tom Neville (1965-77). John Hannah’s mentor came up through the tough times of the AFL and remained one of the franchise’s early staples.

John Hannah (1973-85). He might be the best offensive lineman to ever play the game.

Guard: Logan Mankins (2005-present). One of the most obscure first-round draft picks of the Bill Belichick era, Mankins has panned out to be a steady force on the line.

Center: Dan Koppen (2003-present). He is the current leader of the Pats’ offensive line, and his recognition of the defense takes some weight off of Brady’s shoulders.

Defensive end: Richard Seymour
(2001-present). Expect a huge season from “Big Sey,” who is playing out the last year of his Patriots contract.

Defensive tackle: Vince Wilfork (2004-present). Wilfork’s presence on the defensive line makes him the defense’s most valuable member.

Defensive tackle: Jim Lee Hunt (1960-71). He was a speed rusher from the interior, a trait you hardly ever see anymore in the league.

Defensive end: Bob Dee (1960-67). He jumped on a fumble in the end zone to score the first touchdown in American Football League history.

Outside linebacker: Andre Tippett (1982-93). The pass-rushing sensation is the only player in Patriots history with 100 career sacks.

Middle linebacker: Steve Nelson (1974-87). A quarterback of the defense if there ever was one, Nelson had 207 tackles in 1988, an unofficial Patriots record.

Middle linebacker: Nick Buoniconti
(1962-68). This 13th-round draft pick made eight Pro Bowls and was enshrined in Canton in 2001.

Outside linebacker: Tedy Bruschi (1996-present). Bruschi had to make the list, even if it’s a stretch to put him at outside linebacker.

Cornerback: Mike Haynes
(1976-82). The Pro Football Hall of Famer had 28 interceptions during his tenure with the Pats.

Cornerback: Raymond Clayborn (1977-89). So many members of the 1985 Patriots credit Clayborn’s coverage skills as one of the main reasons they beat the Dolphins in the AFC Championship.

Safety: Rodney Harrison (2003-08). An old-school player, Harrison was truly one of the most intense competitors in all of sports.

Safety: Lawyer Milloy (1996-2002). He’ll probably be remembered mostly in New England for the way his Patriots career ended.

Special Teams
Kicker: Adam Vinatieri
(1996-2005). There will be highlights of Vinatieri for as long as there is football.

Punter: Josh Miller (2004-06). Miller was the most consistent punter during the Patriots’ Super Bowl era.

Kick returner: Troy Brown (1993-2007). Of course, Brown will be mostly remembered for his skills as a wide receiver and his constant willingness to sacrifice himself for the team, but his timeliness in the return game gave a huge boost to the Super Bowl team in 2001.

Long snapper: Lonie Paxton (2000-2008). He’s the 18th Lonie Paxton, and he is also the best long snapper in the game today.

Head coach: Bill Belichick
(2000-present). There was a point a few years ago when people wanted to take Vince Lombardi’s name off the Super Bowl trophy and replace it with Belichick’s.

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