FOXBORO, Mass. — Defensive tackle Houston Antwine and linebacker Willie McGinest were inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame on Wednesday at Gillette Stadium, becoming the 22nd and 23rd players, respectively, to receive the honor.
McGinest was drafted fourth overall by the Patriots in 1994 and won three Super Bowl rings with the team. Antwine played 11 seasons for the club, eight of which came in the AFL when the team was the Boston Patriots. “Twine” was a six-time AFL All-Star and currently ranks 10th on the Patriots’ all-time sacks list.
The ceremony was proctored by Patriots announcer John Rooke and the festivities began with the presentation of the franchise’s four Lombardi Trophies.
Many former Patriots also attended the Hall of Fame induction, including Hall of Famer Andre Tippett and Super Bowl champions Ty Law and Richard Seymour.
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Patriots Hall of Famer Jon Morris spoke on behalf of the deceased Antwine, who was represented by his daughter, and called him “the best defensive tackle in AFL history.”
“No (defensive) lineman was better than (Antwine),” Morris said. “Twine would have said this induction is the highest honor of his life.”
Robert Kraft introduced McGinest — the first player drafted in Kraft’s inaugural season as Patriots owner — and reminisced about some of his greatest moments.
“Willie was a physical specimen,” Kraft said. “He’s the only player to accomplish the Patriots all-decade team in two different decades, at two different positions.”
Kraft also threw a subtle jab at Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
“Willie proved to be the perfect weapon for Bill’s (Belichick) arsenal during the most dominate era in franchise history,” Kraft remarked. “If you needed him to put his hand in the dirt and battle in the trenches, he had the size to do so. As a pass rusher he had the speed to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
“Just ask our good friend Peyton Manning.”
After the 2005 season, McGinest left New England and finished his illustrious 15-year career with the Cleveland Browns. Kraft, though, wasn’t about to let him retire in a different uniform.
“It was tough to watch my first-born retire wearing a Browns jersey,” Kraft said. “So Willie, before you officially go into the Patriots Hall of Fame, would you do me the honor or returning to the family?”
McGinest, who seemed surprised by the question, signed a one-day contract with the team, so he officially could retire as a New England Patriot.
Before signing the contract, however, the two-time Pro Bowler stirred up a few laughs.
“Mr. Kraft, before I sign,” McGinest said. “How much is the contract for?”
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When McGinest finally got his chance to step to the podium, he took the opportunity to thank his family, past coaches and teammates.
“As my momma says, it’s about damn time,” McGinest jokingly remarked.
“When Mr. Kraft drafted me he said he had a vision,” he added. “Not just to be the best organization in football, but in all of sports. And he accomplished that.”
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@PATRIOTSdotCOM