FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are saddened to learn of the death of one of their pioneers and perennial all-stars, defensive tackle Houston Antwine. The six-time American Football League (AFL) All-Star and 50th Anniversary Team member died last night, Monday, Dec. 26, 2011 in Memphis, Tennessee. He was 72. Compounding the loss was the news that his wife, Evelyn, also passed away this morning, Dec. 27, 2011.
"For those of us who grew up watching the Boston Patriots, this is a really sad day," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "In the 1960s, the defensive tackle tandem of 'Twine' and Jim Lee Hunt were as good as any in the league and helped propel the Patriots to the franchise's first division championship in 1963. Myra and I had the good fortune of hosting Houston and his wife, Evelyn, at my home just two years ago when we honored the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team. I loved hearing Houston's stories about those early days in Boston. It was such a thrill for me, personally, to spend time with the players from that era. I am saddened to learn of the deaths of both Houston and Evelyn and want to express my deepest sympathies to the Antwine's daughter, Regina, and all who mourn her losses. Let us all cherish life and remind loved ones how we feel about them daily."
Born on April 11, 1939, Houston Antwine attended Southern Illinois University where he became a standout multiple sport athlete for the Salukis. The Louise, Mississippi native excelled as a defensive tackle on the football field. He was also a National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) wrestling champion for the university. His dominance in both sports earned him an induction into Southern Illinois University Athletic Hall of Fame.
The 6-foot, 270-pound prospect was drafted by the Houston Oilers in the eighth round (64th overall) of the 1961 AFL Draft, but then traded to the Boston Patriots before ever playing a game for the Oilers. Antwine became a defensive catalyst for the Boston Patriots in the newly formed AFL and was selected as an AFL All-Star for six consecutive seasons, spanning 1963-1968. His play earned him the highest accolade as he was elected to the Patriots 1960's All-Decade team and was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team.
Antwine spent 11-of-his-12 professional seasons with the Patriots (1961-69- AFL Boston Patriots, 1970- NFL Boston Patriots, and 1971- NFL New England Patriots) before playing the 1972 season, his final, with the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League. In 142 regular season games for the Patriots, he recorded 39 sacks and led the team in that respective category during the 1967, 1968, and 1969 seasons.
In 2009, the New England Patriots Hall of Fame nomination committee selected Antwine as one of three Patriots alumni most deserving for the team's Hall of Fame induction. That year, the fans selected Jim Nance for enshrinement. It was the first of three consecutive nominations for Antwine, who finished second to Drew Bledsoe in the balloting in 2011.
Services and burial information has not yet been determined.