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Former Patriots defensive lineman, four-time AFL All-Star Larry Eisenhauer dead at 79

Eisenhauer was a member of the Patriots’ team of the 1960s.

From The Archive: The Patriots In The 1960s Photo by Frank O’Brien/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Before quarterback Tom Brady came around in 2000, Larry Eisenhauer had a strong case for the title of best sixth-round draft selection in New England Patriots franchise history: picked in 1961 when the team was still headquartered in Boston, Eisenhauer went on to become one of the best defensive linemen of his era over his nine-year career in pro football, and a cornerstone of the Patriots teams competing in the new AFL.

All in all, Eisenhauer appeared in 115 regular season and two playoff games for the Boston Patriots between 1961 and 1969 and registered totaled 47.5 sacks — still the eighth most in franchise history. Along the way, the Boston College product earned four AFL All-Star recognitions and three All-Pro nominations. After his retirement, Eisenhauer was voted to both the Patriots’ teams of the 1960s and the club’s 35th anniversary team.

On Wednesday, at the age of 79, Eisenhauer passed away in Jupiter, Florida.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Larry Eisenhauer,” said Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “I had the pleasure of watching him play for the Boston Patriots in the ‘60s. Not only was he one of the best defensive linemen in the AFL for nearly a decade, but he was also one of the most colorful personalities this franchise has ever known. I think everyone who ever played with him had a Larry Eisenhauer story and loved to retell them at alumni gatherings.”

“He was an AFL All-Star on the field, but made an ever greater impact in the New England community as a Patriots ambassador, always eager to volunteer for our many alumni initiatives,” Kraft’s statement continued. “On behalf of my family and the New England Patriots organization, we express our sincerest sympathies to Larry’s family, former teammates and the many friends who will mourn his loss.”

Larry Eisenhauer was born on February 22, 1940, in Hicksville, New York. After his retirement from football, he owned and operated a computer hardware company in Boston.