New England Patriots: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
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DT. (1960-70). Jim Lee Hunt. 23. player. 47.

  • New England Patriots No. 79 jersey retired
  • 4x AFL All-Star (1961, 1966-67, 1969)
  • 4x Second-Team All-AFL (1961, 1966-68)
  • New England Patriots Hall of Fame

With a nickname like “Earthquake”, you just knew that defensive tackle Jim Lee Hunt was a forced to be reckoned with on the Patriots defensive line. His nickname supposedly came from the ground-shaking efforts he would often display when trying to get after the quarterback.

While Hunt was originally a 16th-round pick by the Chicago Bears in the 1960 NFL Draft, he opted to sign with the expansion Patriots in the AFL. That proved to be huge for him in his pro football career. Hunt would play his entire 11-year AFL career in Boston. The Patriots were certainly happy to have him for all 11.

Hunt’s breakout season came in 1961 when he made his first AFL All-Star Game, as well as his first All-AFL Second Team. He would be named an AFL All-Star four times in his playing career, making Second-Team All-AFL four times as well.

Though Hunt would take a backseat to defensive line teammate Bob Dee during the early part of the 1960s, Hunt would take the baton from him in 1966 shortly before Dee’s retirement. Three of Hunts’ AFL All-Star Game appearances came after the 1966 AFL season, as did three of his Second-Team All-AFL.

While Dee was known for being a relentless pursuer of the quarterback, Hunt was better known for being a speed rusher for his size along the Patriots defensive line. However, Boston only made the AFL playoffs once in 1963 before joining the AFL.

Hunt is in rare company as one of only 20 players to play in the AFL in its entirety from 1960 to 1969. He would play one final season with Boston in 1970 before retiring at the age of 32. Hunt played in 146 career with the Patriots, only missing playing time as a rookie in 1960.

Like his former pass-rushing teammate Dee, Hunt didn’t get to enjoy all that much of his post-playing career. Sadly, Hunt succumbed to a fatal heart attack in 1975 at the age of 37. He had only hung up the spikes less than five years prior.

Posthumously, Hunt had his No. 79 jersey retired and was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame in 1993. Hunt does hold one significant record in the history of the AFL. He will forever hold the record for most career fumble recoveries at eight. Hunt had an impressive four in 1968 for 51 combined yards.