By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
In his first training camp in New England, Bill Belichick used the names "Willie McGinest" and "Lawrence Taylor" in the same sentence. For McGinest, the fourth overall pick in the 1994 draft, it was another bouquet that turned into a millstone. During the first portion of his Patriots career, McGinest was viewed as somewhat lacking. He put up 19.5 sacks in 1995 and '96 combined and made the Pro Bowl, but once Bill Parcells left, injuries cropped up under Pete Carroll. McGinest played 20 games in 1997 and 1998 when he was entering what should have been the height of his athletic powers.A five-year, 25 million deal signed during his injury-phase didn't help. But by the time 2001 rolled around and McGinest was under Belichick's hand, the strengths unique to McGinest began to emerge. A beast against the run and a threat combining power and speed as a pass-rusher. A terrific leader by word and example. Smart, smart, smart. The arc of McGinest's career parallels that of Celtics captain Paul Pierce. And by the time his Patriots tenure ended and he followed Romeo Crennel to the Browns in 2006 at the age of 35, he was widely appreciated and respected here. On Friday, McGinest joked that he hoped to be offered a contract after running through a workout with the Detroit Lions as part of his work as an analyst for NFL Network. After realizing his comment was taken seriously, McGinest sent a statement to Pro Football Talk letting them know he was done. At the end of the statement, McGinest added, "The only thing that will bring me back is a one-day contract with New England to retire as a Patriot."It doesn't seem that outlandish a request. We'll see if it happens.
By Tom E. Curran