Andre Tippett: From standing up for your self to the Faculty Soccer Corridor of Fame

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – repayments.

It is well known what problems can arise on the recipient side of repayments.

Few people understand this concept like Andre Tippett.

Aside from the fact that in Tippett’s case, the repayments he made were much more mature and within the boundaries of football that led him to excellence at all levels.

Tippett, a former standout at the University of Iowa, will be inducted into the Atlanta College Football Hall of Fame later this year.

Tippett was surprised to learn of his choice for the mooring.

“I went to the door to get the mail and there was a Federal Express package,” the former Hawkeye explained. “When I opened it, there was a tailored letter informing me that I was selected.

“My first thought was that my wife was playing a prank on me,” he added, “and I went back into the house thinking about how I could avenge her for joking me.”

It was anything but a prank or a joke. Tippett has earned every honor he has received over the years after dominating the college game and helping Iowa reach a level not seen in America’s heartland in a long time.

“When I realized the letter was real and I kept getting more, tears came to my eyes,” said Tippett. “There are so many great college football players who have played the game and it is an incredible honor to be recognized alongside them.”


Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Tippett moved to New Jersey with his family when he was seven. It wasn’t long before Tippett was targeted by bullies in his Newark neighborhood.

“I had a problem with bullying from sixth through eighth grade,” recalls Tippett. There seemed to be three or four children constantly harassing me and others in the neighborhood. That was probably the toughest three years of my life. “

Meanwhile, Tippett only grew.

“That made me stronger,” he added.

It was during this time that Tippett began turning to soccer to escape the challenges of the tough Newark streets.

“Football took on a new meaning for me,” said Tippett. “I found out that it gives me the opportunity to stand up for myself constructively.”

Tippett used a friend’s address to go to school at Barringer High School. Barringer was founded in 1838 and is one of the old high schools in the country. The Blue Bears have been one of the best prep programs in New Jersey for many years.


The six-foot-tall Tippett caught the attention of many college recruiters.

Iowa, which was then trained by Bob Commings, prevailed.

However, there was one obstacle that Tippett had to overcome before starting his career in Iowa City.

Tippett had to enroll at Ellsworth, Iowa Junior College before he could find his way to Iowa City.

He found the tiny community of Iowa Falls, home of EJC, not to his taste.

“I wanted out of Ellsworth after a year,” recalls Tippett.

He made sure his grades would allow him.

But another setback came when Commings, Tippett’s original recruiter, was fired from his coaching position in Iowa. Commings, who never had a winning season as the Hawkeyes coach, ended his five seasons with an 18-37 record. He was replaced by Hayden Fry.

Losing continued for the Hawkeyes in Tippett’s first two seasons with the team. Fry’s first Iowa team finished 5-6 and followed in its sophomore season with a 4-7 record. The Hawkeyes finished 4-4 in the Big Ten each of those seasons.

That all started to change in Tippett’s final 1981 season. And in a big way.

Iowa finished 6-2 in conference play and shared the Big Ten championship with Ohio State.

It was Iowa’s first winning season in 20 years and the first Rose Bowl appearance since 1959.

“The traditional beat-downs ended this season.” said Tippett.

Early in the season it became clear that something special might be on the horizon in Iowa City. The Hawkeyes started the season with a 10-7 win over No. 7 Nebraska at home at Kinnick Stadium. A loss to state rival Iowa State the following week dampened that enthusiasm somewhat.

A four-game winning streak restored excitement and expectations that the long drought of under 500 seasons was just about to end.

A compelling 20-7 win over sixth-placed UCLA began that winning streak, and the Hawkeyes followed with a win over Northwestern (64-0), Indiana (42-28) and a narrow 9-7 win on the Michigan road.

The Hawkeyes needed wins in each of their last three regular season games to secure a share of the conference title and the trip to Pasadena.

Tippett also made a name for himself, establishing himself as one of the best in college football history.

He was named to the first-team all-conference team in each of his last two seasons in Iowa. He set a school record for tackles for loss in 1980 when he recorded 20 TFLs for minus 153 yards. Tippett finished the season with 66 tackles, including 41 solo stops.

The 1981 season, his final season in Iowa City, was filled with some of the most impressive stats in school history.

The Hawkeyes only allowed 129 points in their 12 games, including the Rose Bowl, where they lost a 28-0 decision to Washington. The 10.8 points allowed per game were the lowest since 1965. The 86.9 yards per game allowed in rushing remains the best in school history.

Tippett and his defensive teammates allowed an average of 253 yards per game, the fewest since 1959 and the fourth-best in school history for yards allowed. Northwestern only managed 78 yards in a 64-0 loss to the Hawkeyes at Evanston.

Tippett was a consensus All-American in 1981 after posting a total of 61 tackles, including 14 sacks. He finished his college career with 141 (88 solo) tackles and three interceptions. After his career in Iowa, he played in the Hula Bowl and the Japan Bowl.

He was later elected to the Iowa Varsity Hall of Fame.

“It’s really special to be elected by your colleagues and the people who saw you play,” said Tippett when he was immortalized at the University of Iowa in 2007 in Iowa City.

“This is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever had,” he added. “It’s a special feeling, because in the three years that I was there, I developed a great bond with the players and coaches.”


Tippett, who had grown to £ 230 by the end of his college career, was selected in the second round of the 1982 NFL Draft (42nd overall) by the New England Patriots.

He would spend his entire 11-year professional career with the Patriots and become one of the dominant defensive players of his time.

“(Lawrence Taylor) is in a class of its own,” said Roger Vick of New York Jets during Tippett’s playing career. “LT is first, then Tippett and (Cornelius) Bennett behind him.”

The former Hawkeye was voted five consecutive Pro Bowls (1984-88). He had the highest two-season total from a linebacker in NFL history at 35 sacks (1984-85). The 18.5 sacks he recorded in 1984 is the third highest amount by any linebacker in a single season in league history. He had 16.5 sacks the following season, finishing sixth in a single season by a linebacker.

Tippett, who appeared in 151 games (139 starts) during his NFL career, was sacked in his rookie season but finished either first or second on Team NFL in each of his last 10 seasons for the last 10 seasons. He missed the entire 1989 season due to injury. He ended his professional career with 100 sacks.

He also shares the New England franchise record of 18 fumble recoveries with Steve Nelson and was credited with 17 forced fumbles during his time in New England. He played in three playoff games with the Patriots, including the Super Bowl after the 1985 season in which New England lost 46-10 to the Chicago Bears.

Tippett says it’s important for young players to take advantage of those who are trying to teach them.

“Do whatever you can to become a great teammate,” he said. “There are so many people who are ready to teach you the things you need to be successful when you are ready to learn.

“It takes time to grow and it takes a work ethic and discipline to be successful,” he added.

A native of Bismarck, ND, Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University, where he began studying athletic training and serving as a student coach for several bison teams including swimming, wrestling, and baseball championship meetings at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the NDSU’s sports information office. After graduating from NDSU, he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor for several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. Ray is a noted sports historian and is currently the assistant editor for Amateur Wrestling News.

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