Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bill Belichick says Mark Bavaro worthy of Hall of Fame

Bill Belichick might have the best tight end in the NFL right now in Rob Gronkowski but, it was another brutish tight end that the Patriots coach made his bones with and still hasn't forgotten: Mark Bavaro.

At Tuesday's Media Day session, Belichick reminisced about being the Giants' defensive coordinator when Bavaro played for the Giants and helped the team to Super Bowl victories after the 1986 and 1990 seasons.

Photo: Tony Mangia

Although Belichick wouldn't compare Rambo and Gronk directly — "it's a different era, a different game" — Belichick had nothing but praise for the hard-nosed Bavaro, a fourth-round pick out of Notre Dame whose career was cut short by a knee injury.

"I think Mark's in a really special category," Belichick said. "His toughness, his overall complete play as a tight end and blocker, just as a total competitor was just outstanding. I don't think Mark has ever gotten the recognition that any of us that coached him or played with him know that he deserves."

While Bavaro's silent, no-nonsense approach to the game differed greatly from Gronk's ebullient style, Belichick praised their similar all-round abilities on the field.

"He [Bavaro] blocked [Eagles defensive end] Reggie White better than most tackles blocked him," Belichick said. "That alone should put him in the Hall of Fame. This guy was a great football player."

Belichick recalled his favorite memory of Bavaro, and it wasn't his catch-and-run in a 1986 Monday night game against the 49ers when he carried about half the Niners defense on his back before being brought down. 

"I would say if there's a memory in my mind, it's of training camp of all the times that LT [Lawrence Taylor] and Carl [Banks] would line up against from Mark in one-on-ones," Belichick said. 

"Those are back in the days of training camp where you practiced every day in pads. There were no better battles in my entire career than watching Carl and LT go against Bavaro one-on-one. I mean, it was just awesome. All three of them were so good, so competitive and so tough."

If you need a reminder, here's the play that most fans remember:

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