Best of Boston

1986 Best Athlete, Patriots Player

Andre Tippett

<p>Dick Butkus.</p> <p>That’s who linebacker Andre Tippett brings to mind, says Dick Shinnick, the Patriots’ linebacker coach. “His impact on a game is Butkus’s.”</p> <p>Tippett, a 26-year-old black belt in karate who finished his fourth year in the National Football League by making virtually every All-NFL team, bolstered a defense rivaled only by Chicago’s in its pass rush.</p> <p>Astonishingly, Shinnick believes that the six-foot-three-inch, 241-pound Alabama native can get even better. “He’s already with the great ones,” the coach says. “He can do anything they can do. But this year he’ll improve on plays off tackle. He’s pretty good at them. But he could be better.”</p> <p>Bring on the Bears.</p>