A Hall of Fame comparison – HOUSTON ANTWINE

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There is a feeling among AFL fans that the American Football League players are consistently overlooked for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  In truth there are many players, the bulk of whose careers were spent in the AFL, that deserve serious consideration, if not outright induction.  In an effort to spark some discussion regarding their hall of fame worthiness, I will occasionally compare AFL players to their NFL (and Hall of Fame) counterparts. The short biographies on the NFL players have been taken directly from the Pro Football Hall of Fame website.

Today’s comparison is between Houston Antwine of the Boston Patriots and two HoF defensive tackles, Henry Jordan and Merlin Olsen.

autographed 1965 topps houston antwine

#002 – Houston Antwine

Houston Antwine – Eighth-round draft choice of the Houston Oilers in 1961, soon traded to Patriots…  Became fixture on Patriots defensive line from 1961-1971, with Eagles in 1972…  Six-time AFL All-Star (1963-1968)…  One of the African-American players to boycott 1965 AFL All-Star Game due to discrimination… Member of Patriots 50th Anniversary Team…  AFL All-Time First Team Member.

Henry Wendell JordanCleveland fifth-round draft pick, 1957. . .Traded to Packers for fourth-round pick, 1959. . . Became 11-year fixture at right defensive tackle. . .Quick, smart defender, specialized in pressuring quarterback. . .All-NFL six times. . . Played in four Pro Bowls, seven NFL title games, Super Bowls I, II. . .Missed only two games first 12 seasons.

Merlin Jay OlsenAll-America, Outland Trophy winner, Phi Beta Kappa at Utah State … Rams’ No. 1 draft pick, 1962 … Big, fast, agile, smart … Stabilizing leader of famed “Fearsome Foursome” defensive line … All-NFL, 1964, 1966-1970 … All-Western Conference six times, All-NFC twice … Rookie of Year, 1962 … Picked on Rams’ all-time team, 1970 … Played in 208 games, last 198 in a row.

Houston Antwine is one of the AFL’s great unsung heroes.  In fact, in researching this piece I found a fantastic quote about Antwine by Ron Borges, a columnist for the Boston Herald.  “Houston Antwine was the kind of football player you don’t forget if you ever saw him, but he’s the kind few remember today because he did his playing before ESPN highlight shows existed. If they had, ‘Twine would have been a staple because he was everything you wanted in a defensive tackle — Warren Sapp before there was a Warren Sapp, but without the need for volume control.”  “Twine was an anchor on a tough Boston defensive line that also featured Larry Eisenhauer, Bob Dee and Jim “Earthquake” Hunt.  An exceptional ballplayer that gets overlooked at least in part, because he did not play on championship teams.  Thoughts?

Todd Tobias (781 Posts)

Todd Tobias's interest in the American Football League began in 1998, when he wrote my master's thesis about Sid Gillman. He created this site to educate and entertain football fans with the stories of the American Football League, 1960-1969. You can follow Todd and get more AFL history on Twitter @TalesfromtheAFL.

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7 Responses to A Hall of Fame comparison – HOUSTON ANTWINE

  1. jeffrey miller says:

    Billy Shaw told me that Antoine was the one man he had the most trouble with.

    • billd says:

      Al Bemiller, a nine year teammate of Shaw, also speaks highly of Houston Antwine. Bemiller, Shaw, Stew Barber and ex -Charger Dick Hudson (Bill’s brother) were the nucleus of the champion Bill’s offensive line. Google Al Bemiller Remembers to view a very good interview with Al Bemiller from 2004 as he remembers many Bill’s teammates and compares Houston Antwine with Ernie Ladd. Houston was very good who deserves the HOF.

  2. chris burford says:

    Just another of the great 60’s era AFL players that have been overlooked due to the lack of todays (and the past 40 years ) hype of Monday/Sunday/Thursday night football and the (60’s and 70’s) adoring sonorous commentary of John Facenda on “NFL” films…and 24/7 adoration of ESPN. Sure were alot of tough, tenacious, underpaid (by todays standards), talented players that played in the AFL that have been overshadowed by other, but not better, outstanding players of that time, and that haven’t received their due except by those prescient early fans, and the knowledgable men that played with and against them. Grayson, Haynes, Robinson, Taylor (2), Budde, Harris, Byrd, Gonsoulin, Arbanas, Powell, Daniels, Ghilcrest, Faison……the list goes on and on….all as good or better then a number already honored by the “NFL”…………….maybe….someday……….(not likely).

  3. Howard says:

    I remember watching Antwine playing at the end of his career. He seemed to be a very active lineman. Not quite sure where he fits in vs. Olsen and Jordan. But, I would have to believe that anyone who was all AFL for that many years is deserving of the Hall of Fame.

  4. Tom says:

    A look at Henry Jordan’s career shows that after the 1958 season he went from the Browns to the Packers for Billy Howton, Howton is a player that some feel is deserving of Hall of Fame recognition and it is difficult to compare down line man like Antwine and Jordan when statistics were not kept, only games played and All Pro and Pro Bowl honors.

    While I realize the following is probably not a fair comparison, I think it of some interest to point out…Billy Howton was a wide reciever and like Alworth, a decade earlier ended his career in Dallas with the Cowboys. Alworth’s was 31 and 32 years old his last two seasons in Dallas and in those two years he caught a combined total of 49 passes for 682 yards and 4 td’s, Howton at the same age for two seasons caught a combined total of 105 passes for 1491 yards and 10 td’s.

  5. Larry Kaminski says:

    We called the Hunt and Antwine…the mole men…impossible to get on an angle and one one on one…i was actually almost traded after a bad day with the two of them..trying to block Houston on the onside gap was impossible…Kaminski Broncos…played against many but he was a nightmare.

  6. Howard Kosrofian says:

    Houston Antwine was as good as any DT in pro football in the 1960`s in either league.IN fact a case could be made for him being the best !!!!!! HOF LONG OVER DUE

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