Tippett joins greats in NFL Hall of Fame

September 4, 2008
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Andre Tippett has become the sixth Jew to be inducted into the Professional Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

He was one of half a dozen new members whose names now rank among American Football's all-time greats.

New England Patriots' Jewish owner Robert Kraft introduced Tippett to the crowd in Canton and the millions watching on TV.

"Andre Tippett was the most dominant defenders the Patriots ever had and one of the greatest ever to play the game," he announced.

Standing 6ft 3in and weighing just over 17 stone, Tippett played the position of linebacker for the Patriots from 1982 to 1993.

During that time he was rightfully regarded as one of the NFL's most feared defenders. His reputation was aided by the widespread knowledge that he held black belts in three martial arts.

He was voted Defensive Player of the entire League in 1985, and was selected to the League's team of the season for five consecutive years from 1984 to 1988.

Tippett's playing career ended in 1993, but his time as a Jew began in 1997, when he converted from his Baptist roots, partly to ensure his children would be brought up with the religion of his wife, Rhonda.
Having been welcomed into her family to celebrate Jewish holidays, Tippett found himself fascinated by Judaism's customs and community.

He enrolled in an Introduction to Judaism course at his local Reform Synagogue and five months later asked the Rabbi to sponsor his official conversion.

"The biggest thing I liked was the customs," said Tippett, "what goes into each and every celebration and the holidays, especially the High Holy Days.

"I wanted to keep the family as one from a religious standpoint. I thought it would be great to convert to Judaism and have a Jewish home."

During his induction speech, Tippett spoke glowingly about Jewish family life. "Family is the most important ingredient in my life," he explained. "I am lucky to have married into a warm, loving and accepting family. Now, they say behind every great man is a great woman. And I certainly have one."

Tippett becomes the sixth Jewish member of the Hall of Fame, joining quarterbacks Sid Luckman and Benny Friedman, coaches Marv Levy and Sid Gillman, and offensive lineman Ron Mix.

    Last updated: 4:53pm, September 4 2008