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Mark Bavaro receives HOF endorsement from Bill Belichick

Bill Belichick coaches the NFL's most dominant tight end in Rob Gronkowski.

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The fifth-year player has 54 touchdowns in 65 career games after recording 82 catches for 1,124 yards and 12 scores in the 2014 regular season.

Gronkowski is not the first accomplished tight end Belichick has seen at close range.

While it is tough to compare players in different eras, Belichick, who is seeking his fourth Super Bowl title as head coach of the New England Patriots this Sunday, said Mark Bavaro from his days with the Giants deserves to be talked about as one of the best.

"I think Mark's in a really special category," Belichick said during New England's Media Day, according to Newsday. "His toughness, his overall complete play as a tight end and blocker, just as a total competitor, was just outstanding. I don't think Mark has ever gotten the recognition that any of us that coached him or played with him know that he deserves.

"He blocked [Hall of Fame defensive lineman] Reggie White better than most tackles blocked him. That alone should put him in the Hall of Fame. This guy was a great football player."

Decades before Belichick and his Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks and their vaunted defense in Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., he led one of the most fearsome fronts the game has ever seen with the Giants. 

Belichick, who served 12 seasons with Big Blue, including six as defensive coordinator from 1985-1990, won two titles before landing his first head coaching stint with the Cleveland Browns and ultimately finding tremendous success in New England.

It was then that Bavaro became a standard-bearer for the toughness that defined the team and sport at the time.

"I would say if there's a memory in my mind, it's of training camp of all the times that LT [Lawrence Taylor] and Carl [Banks] would line up across from Mark in one-on-ones," Belichick added. "Those are back in the days of training camp where you practiced every day in pads. There were no better battles in my entire career than watching Carl and LT go against Bavaro one-on-one. I mean, it was just awesome. All three of them were so good, so competitive and so tough."

PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME TIGHT ENDS

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Check out photos of all the Tight Ends in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

Modern Era: Tight Ends (8)**

Dave Casper 1974-1984
Mike Ditka 1961-1972
John Mackey 1963-1972
Ozzie Newsome 1978-1990
Charlie Sanders 1968-1977
Shannon Sharpe 1990-2003
Jackie Smith 1963-1978
Kellen Winslow 1979-1987

Pre-Modern Era: Ends (7)

Morris (Red) Badgro 1927, 1930-1936
Guy Chamberlin 1919-1928
Ray Flaherty 1926-1929, 1931-1935
George Halas 1920-1928
Bill Hewitt 1932-1939, 1943
Don Hutson 1935-1945
Wayne Millner 1936-1941, 1945

See more at ProFootballHOF.com

Photos from the career of Giants great Mark Bavaro

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