New England Patriots top 5 offensive linemen in franchise history

New England Patriots John Hannah (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
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New England Patriots offensive lineman Bruce Armstrong. Mandatory Credit: Peter Brouillet-USA TODAY NETWORK /

New England Patriots all-time offensive lineman: No. 2 – Bruce Armstrong

New England Patriots tackle Bruce Armstrong was a fixture at left tackle for the team for over a decade.

A Louisville graduate and first-round draft pick in 1987, Armstrong manned the second most important post on the team from1987 through the 2000 season.

Here’s what the Patriots Hall of Fame has to say about its member,

"Bruce Armstrong holds the team record with 212 games played, starting in every one of them. A six-time Pro Bowl participant, Armstrong was only one of three players in league history to play with the same team in three different decades. Though somewhat undersized for his tackle position, Armstrong anchored the offensive line through the late 1980s and 1990s. He played the last eight games of the 1999 season with three torn ligaments in his right knee and was name an alternate to the Pro Bowl that season. His battles with Buffalo’s Hall of Fame defensive end Bruce Smith were legendary during the peak of both players’ careers. Armstrong was selected for the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2001. Inducted 2001."

Armstrong was not the biggest offensive left tackles at about 295 pounds and 6’4″ tall, but his athleticism for a man that size was off the charts. He is the best ever to man the position for the New England Patriots.

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As noted in the Hall description, Armstrong engaged in titanic battles with Pro Football Hall of Famer, former Buffalo Bills great, Bruce Smith, one of the best defensive ends in league history.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame notes of Smith,

"A key member of the Bills teams that won six AFC Eastern Division championships and four AFC titles, many observers feel that 1990 was Smith’s finest season. That year he recorded 19 quarterback sacks and his dominant play frequently changed the complexion of the game."

These battles took place during the halcyon years of the Bills under their great coach, Marv Levy when the Bills reached four consecutive Super Bowls without winning one. Buffalo dominated the AFC East during much of that time. But with Armstrong at left tackle, the Patriots traveled to Super Bowl XXXI after the 1996 season, unfortunately losing to the Green Bay Packers.

Armstrong went to six pro Bowls and the question can certainly be asked whether he should be wearing the yellow jacket of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as the red of the Patriots he now wears. The answer here would be a resounding “yes”.