Houston Antwine, a six-time American Football League all-star defensive tackle and a member of the Patriots' 50th anniversary team, died last night in Memphis, the team confirmed. He was 72. His wife, Evelyn, died this morning. Causes were undisclosed.
“For those of us who grew up watching the Boston Patriots, this is a really sad day,” said Patriots owner 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.”
Antwine, a 6-foot, 270-pounder, was an AFL All-Star for six straight years (1963-68). He spent 11 of his 12 professional seasons with the Patriots (1961-71) before playing a final season with the Philadelphia Eagles. In 142 regular season games for the Patriots, he recorded 39 sacks, leading the team each year from 1967-69.
Originally drafted by the Houston Oilers out of Southern Illinois in '61, he was traded to the Patriots for a third-round pick in the '62 draft before ever playing a game. It stands as one of the best deals in franchise history: he was elected to the Patriots 1960s All-Decade team and was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team.
Antwine has been nominated for the Patriots Hall of Fame for the past three years. He was the runner-up to inductee Drew Bledsoe in 2011 balloting.