Before there was Gronk, there was another No. 87 Patriots tight end who was a five-time Pro Bowler, two-time first-team All-Pro and, at times, was considered nearly as unstoppable.
Happy 50th birthday, Ben Coates!
On his birthday, a reminder that Ben Coates was unstoppable. pic.twitter.com/DYgFi9TAy3
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) August 16, 2019
A fifth-round pick of the Pats in 1991 from then-Division II Livingstone College in North Carolina, Coates blossomed when Bill Parcells and Drew Bledsoe arrived in New England and he became Bledsoe's go-to target in Parcells' tight-end heavy offense.
His 96 catches in 1994 were a record for a tight end at the time. He's third on the Patriots all-time list in touchdown catches with 50, behind Stanley Morgan (67) and Rob Gronkowski (79), sixth all-time in Patriots history for both catches (490) and yards (5,471) and second all-time for Pats tight ends to Gronk's 521 catches for 7,861.
The birthday tweet and video serve as a reminder that the 6-foot-5, 245 Coates was a force for the pre-dynasty Pats.
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A birthday shoutout to a former Patriots tight end, No. 87...no, not THAT one originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston