Houston Antwine, a former NFL Boston Patriots’ star, and his wife Evelyn died, the Patriots announced on Tuesday.
The former six-time American Football League all-star defensive tackle died at the age of 72 in Memphis, Tenn. of heart failure.
Less than 24 hours later, Antwine’s wife Evelyn died of lung cancer.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed his condolences over the deaths, saying that for those who grew up as Patriots fans the death marks a “sad day.”
“I am saddened to learn of the deaths of both Houston and Evelyn and want to express my deepest sympathies to the Antwines’ daughter, Regina, and all who mourn her losses,” Kraft said in a statement.
“Let us all cherish life and remind loved ones how we feel about them daily,” Kraft added.
Antwine, a former college football and wrestling star at Southern Illinois University, was drafted by the Houston Oilers prior to being traded to the Patriots in 1961.
The 6-foot, 270-pound tackle played for the Patriots from 1961-71 and spent his last season in 1972 with the Philadelphia Eagles.
“He probably ranks in my top three favorite teammates of all time. There was a period of time – probably ’63 thorough ’68 – when he was the best defensive tackle in the AFL,” former teammate Jon Morris told The Boston Globe.
“He was a really charming, wonderful guy. Everyone that knew him loved him,” Morris added.
Antwine was one of the players selected to participate in the Patriots’ 50th anniversary team and he had also been nominated for the Patriots’ Hall of Fame several times, but was beat out by other players each time.
Service and funeral information for the couple has not been made public yet.