Throwback Thursday: Andre Tippett
In football more than any other sport there is always the debate of “Who ranks where?” The discussion can gofrom quarterback – down to the special teams gunner.
In most of these discussions, there is always a player or two who falls between the cracks for whatever. Talent aside, it could be the stigma of playing on some not-so-great teams or simply because he played in an era where other players simply received more shine.
In the case of Andre Tippett – it was both.
The former All-American and All-Big Ten defensive from the University of Iowa was a second round selection of the New England Patriots in the 1982 NFL Draft.
Tippett successfully made the conversion to strongside linebacker but was unable to record a sack as a rookie in 1982. For the next 10 seasons he would finish no lower than second on the team in that category. In 1984 and 1985, Tippett would go on to have two of the most dominant seasons by a linebacker in NFL history. His two season sack total of 35 is the highest two year total by a linebacker. Tippett’s 18.5 sacks in 1984 are third most by any linebacker, while his 16.5 in 1985 (The Patriots first Super Bowl season) was the sixth highest total for a linebacker.
Tippett is the Patriots’ franchise sack leader with 100, he holds the top three season sack performances (18.5 in ’84, 16.5 in ’85 and 12.5 in ’87) He is ranked 7th on the all-time sacks list and 3rd among linebackers.
The mastery of Tippett’s craft came in spite of lining up on the strong side. For those unfamiliar with strongside and weakside here’s a quick lesson; the strongside is the side where the tight end lines up. So on each down Tippett had to decide if it was best to drop back into coverage or rush the passer. If you look at the history of great linebackers most either came up the middle (Mike Singletary, Jack Lambert and Ray Lewis) or came from the weakside (Jack Ham, Lawrence Taylor and Derrick Thomas) Tippett was engaged with at least a tight end on every play and sometimes a tackle.
Other than the 1985 season the Patriots were mediocre at best – Tippett played 11 seasons with the Pats and was a member of only three playoff teams. Although he was not a household name amongst most of the league fanbase, he was recognized by his peers and media over the course of his career.
NFL Linebacker of the Year from 1985-87 – as voted by the NFLPA.
Associated Press All-NFL First team 1985, 1987 -Second team 1986,1988
NFL Films All-Pro team – 1984
United Press International AFL-AFC Defensive Player of the Year – 1985
Tippett was a top 10 finalist for the 2007 Hall of Fame class, although not selected Tippett still has an opportunty to make this year’s class, as he is again a finalist. It would only be fair that he enjoys the same honor as his contemporaries (Lambert, Taylor, Singletary and Ham, Thomas is a 2008 finalist).
Tippett in his years after football continued to persue and master his love of the martial arts. Tippett is a Godan/5th degree black belt with Shihan (Master Instructor) License. He has received all of his training under Sensei Steve Banchick Kyoshi, a 7th Degree Black Belt. Tippett has studied Uechi-Ryu Karate-Do since 1982 and has also had intensive training in Okinawa. Tippett has also trained privately with Shihan Toshihiro Oshiro in Yamanni Ryu, an Okinawan Kobudo system. Andre has been a member of the Ryukyu Bujutsu Kenkyu Doyukai (RBKD). Yamanni Ryu (also Yamanni-Chinen Ryu) whose main weapon is Bo. The sai, tonfa, nunchaku and Kama are studied as secondary weapons. Tippett has also competed in the AAU on a regional and national level in Kata, Kumite, Team Kumite and Kobudo. He has also competed on the west coast at the Annual Ozawa International Traditional Karate Tournament, Okinawan Uechi-Ryu Karate Championship in Antioch, California, winning a Grand Championship in Kumite in 1993.
Tippett is also a convert to Judaism, he attends Temple Sinai in Sharon, MA. Where he lives with his wife Rhoda and their two children – daughter Madison and son Coby Jordan.
My best recollection of Tippett was a two sack performance game against Randall Cunningham and the Philadelphia Eagles in the late 1980’s. It was one of the 30 multi-sack games in his career.
It is my hope that Super Bowl week Tippett receives his day in the sun for a career that seem to be played in the shadows.
Thanks to Wikipedia for the martial arts info.