Some of the biggest stars in the NFL have played for the New England Patriots and left us with incredible memories of their best moments.
Who are the former New England Patriots players that fans love to remember and what did they achieve while playing here that makes them so popular still?
With the team founded in 1959 as the Boston Patriots before changing their name to include New England in 1971, there’s a huge amount of history for us to look back on.
The Patriots have racked up more Super Bowl wins and appearances than any other NFL franchise, so let’s take a look at some of the players who have created those triumphs.
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This analysis of the ten of the best retired Patriots players starts with a football legend who recently played his last game after a long and hugely successful career.
We’ll also be looking at former Patriots from further back in the past to remember some of the players who have been favorites with our fans.
The first of the best former Patriots players is the quarterback who was largely responsible for a decade of massive success at the Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady was born in California but played his college football at the University of Michigan before the Patriots chose him as the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL Draft. As well as being probably the best late-pick of any draft, he also had to work his way up from fourth-choice QB to become a starter.
It turned out to be possibly the most inspired draft selection of all time, as he became widely regarded as the best quarterback in history during his time with the Patriots.
First, he led them to their first-ever Super Bowl win in his first season as a starter, winning the MVP Award at Super Bowl XXXVI and becoming the youngest QB to win a Super Bowl, after setting up the win on their final play.
He finally left the Patriots in 2020, following six Super Bowl titles and 17 division titles during an incredible two-decade spell where he was one of the most popular players and always a good choice for Super Bowl prop bets.
John Hannah was born in Georgia and played college football with the University of Alabama before the Patriots chose him as the fourth overall pick in the 1973 draft. With the nickname of Hog, John was an important member of the New England roster for 13 seasons. Relatively short but fast and strong, he’s considered one of the finest linemen to have ever played in the NFL.
Among his achievements, he was selected for the Pro Bowl nine times and for the first team of the All-Pro on seven occasions. John has been inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame as well as the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football equivalent.
His partnership with Leon Gray was considered to be the best in the NFL at the time, with tight end Russ Francis adding to the strength of the left side. He was regularly voted as the best Patriots player of all time until Tom Brady’s achievements in the 21st century.
This Texas-born cornerback was renowned for his speed and strength, and was particularly good as a punt returner. Playing for Arizona State, Mike was selected as an All-American twice and set a college record for the number of punt returns made as he racked up 46 in the 1974 season.
The Patriots chose him in the first round of the 1976 draft and he quickly made his mark in a strong rookie season where he collected eight interceptions and led the conference with 608 yards on 45 punt returns.
Although Mike left for the Los Angeles Raiders in 1983, he was fondly remembered by Patriots fans and his number 40 shirt was retired while he was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.
His time with the Raiders saw him collect a Super Bowl victory and cemented his reputation as one of the finest cornerbacks to play in the NFL.
The next on our list of the best former New England Patriots players is Andre Tippett, a powerful linebacker who joined the Patriots after a college career with the Iowa Hawkeyes and stayed in the NFL for 11 seasons. An All-American in 1981, he joined the Patriots in the second round of the following year’s draft and quickly became an important part of the team.
He collected five Pro Bowl nominations and had an incredible period covering the 1984 and 1985 seasons where he recorded a league-high of 35 sacks.
In fact, he’s still high on the list of the most sacks by any linebacker during a single NFL season and has the Patriots record of 100 sacks during his career. A Hall of Fame member, Andre is a martial arts expert and works for the Patriots behind the scenes.
Fans' favorite Troy Brown is another player who spent his entire career with the Patriots, meaning that all of his 15 seasons in the NFL came while wearing the colors of the Patriots.
A wide receiver and kick returner, Troy had played with Marshall University, and set a college football record with this average kickoff return of 26.69 yards and gout kick returns ending in touchdowns. before New England picked him in round eight of the 1993 draft.
His career in Massachusetts saw Troy win the Super Bowl on three occasions as well as getting a Pro Bowl selection He was part of the team that won the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 2001 and after retiring as a player he came back to the Patriots as an offensive assistant.
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Known as a deep-threat wide receiver, South Carolina-born Stanley Morgan played in various positions for the University of Tennessee, where he set several records before the New England Patriots selected him in the first round of the 1977 draft. They then helped him develop into a top-class wide receiver thanks to his incredible speed.
Excellent yards per reception and receiving touchdown numbers saw him become one of the franchise’s most important players. He set a franchise record in 1981 with five receptions totaling 182 yards, and it took almost two decades for this record to be broken.
As one of the top retired Patriots players, Stanley still holds the NFL record for wide receivers with 500 or more catches, with an average per catch of 19.2 yards, and spent just a season with the Indianapolis Colts after ending his time with the Patriots.
As one of the great running backs of all time, the only regret for Patriots fans is that he didn’t spend more of his career in New England. Curtis Main played basketball initially but reluctantly moved to football in his senior year of high school. He immediately began the star of the team in various positions and then headed to the University of Pittsburgh.
Injuries at college meant that he was only a third-round selection in the 1995 draft, despite his speed and impressive playing record. Curtis joined at a time when the Patriots had lost several running backs and he was immediately put into action, running 30 yards on his very first carry in pro football.
His excellent performances helped the Patriots to reach Super Bowl XXXI but they lost that game and Curtis went on to play with the New York Jets for eight years and become one of the NFL’s leaders in rushing yards.
Born in West Virginia, Randy Moss went on to become one of the most popular former New England Patriots players. He played several different sports at high school, excelling in basketball and track events, and then headed to Marshall University where he scored at least a touchdown in every game he played in before joining the 1998 NFL draft.
Highly sought-after thanks to his outstanding athletic ability and performances in college, Randy was chosen as the 21st pick by the Minnesota Vikings, with his widely-reported problems off the field arguably causing other franchises to back away from choosing him.
Randy joined the Patriots in 2007 and quickly started putting in sensational performances to help the team to a perfect record of 16-0 in the regular season while setting a single-season record of 23 touchdown receptions that still stands. His New England career fizzled out in 2010 but he remains one of the most iconic Patriots former players.
Hailing from Pennsylvania, Ty Law played college football for the Michigan Wolverines and joined the Patriots when he was chosen in the first round during the 1996 draft.
He became the franchise’s top cornerback and played in Super Bowl XXXI. The 1998 season saw him become the first Patriots player to be a league leader in interceptions and he repeated the feat in 2005, while he currently holds the franchise records in terms of career interceptions.
His first Super Bowl victory came in 2001 when he scored the game’s first points with a touchdown following an interception. Ty won two more Super Bowls in New England but was released in 2005 and joined the New York Jets.
As one of the highly-respected Patriots former players who famously said that he is a Patriot for life, he has been an honorary team captain on several occasions and has local business interests.
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Born in Springfield in 1940, Nick Buoniconti played for Cathedral High School and then Notre Dame. While he was played as a tackle, his relative lack of size meant that he was overlooked by many pro teams and was chosen by the Patriots, when known as the Boston Patriots, in the 13th round of the 1962 draft. This was where he made the move to linebacker and became the franchise rookie of the season.
Nick was selected for five All-AFL teams before moving to the Miami Dolphins in 1969. In Miami, he won two Super Bowls and also had an undefeated season in 1972. After his playing career ended, Nick carried out various roles, such as an attorney, TV host, and as a sports agent.
The ten former New England Patriots players that we’ve looked at here are all fondly remembered for their outstanding contributions to the franchise’s success.
Every fan will have their own favorites depending on the period when they started supporting the team and the positions that they prefer to watch. You can find more NFL betting guides for Patriots fans here.
While each Patriots supporter will have their own favorites and we don’t expect everyone to agree with all ten of our selections, this is a great starting point for any debate about the franchise’s more memorable players.
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