The NFL world is in mourning this week after it was revealed that Bill Lenkaitis, a former longtime offensive lineman for the New England Patriots who became the team dentist, passed away on Saturday. He was 70 years-old.
The New York Times reported that the Patriots confirmed Lenkaitis death and said he died of brain cancer. They did not say where he died.
Born in Strongsville, Ohio, on June 30, 1946, Lenkaitis began his career as captain of the Penn State football team in 1967. He was drafter by the San Diego Chargers in the second round of the 1968 American Football League draft. After three years with that team, he joined the Patriots and played with the team for 11 seasons.
Lenkaitis started in an impressive 119 games, including all 16 in 1978, the year the Patriots set an N.F.L. team rushing record with 3,165 yards. This record stands to this day.
During the off-season, Lenkaitis worked tirelessly to earn his dental degree from the University of Tennessee. After he graduated, he became the team dentist while he was still a member of the team.
Lenkaitis is survived by his beloved wife Donna, who he was married to for 44 years. In addition, he is survived by three children, six grandchildren, and a brother.
Rest in peace, Bill Lenkaitis!