Willie McGinest
refer to caption
McGinest at the 2008 ESPN the Weekend event at Disney's Hollywood Studios
No. 55
Personal information
Born: (1971-12-11) December 11, 1971 (age 52)
Long Beach, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:270 lb (122 kg)
Career information
High school:Long Beach Polytechnic
NFL draft:1994 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Career history
Career highlights and awards
NFL records
  • Most career postseason sacks: 16
  • Most sacks in a single postseason game: 4.5
Career NFL statistics
Forced fumbles:16
Player stats at PFR

William Lee McGinest Jr. (born December 11, 1971) is an American former professional football player who was a linebacker in the National Football League (NFL) for 15 seasons, primarily with the New England Patriots. He played college football at USC and was selected fourth overall by the Patriots in the 1994 NFL draft. During his 12 seasons with the team, he was named to two Pro Bowls and won three Super Bowl titles. McGinest also holds the record for postseason sacks. For his accomplishments in New England, he was inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame in 2015.

Early life and career

The second of four children, McGinest attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School, where he garnered all-state honors in football and basketball. In football, he earned All-American recognition from Super Prep, Blue Chip, and Tom Lemming magazines and was selected to several all-star teams, earning all-city, all-state, and all-region honors as a linebacker in 1989. He totaled 107 tackles, including 18 sacks, two fumble recoveries, four passes defended, including an interception, and blocked four kicks as a senior. In 2009, McGinest was elected to Poly's Football Hall of Fame.[1] On the court, he earned Long Beach Press-Telegram "Best in the West," All-CIF Southern Section and all-league honors while averaging 14 points per game during the 1989-90 season.

College career

From 1990 to 1993, McGinest played football at the University of Southern California. He wore number 55. McGinest earned all-conference honors three straight years and All-American acclaim. During his senior year, he was a Lombardi Award finalist, and earned All-American and All-Pac-10 conference honors. He started every game at weak-side defensive end for the Trojans. McGinest finished his collegiate career with 193 tackles (134 solos), 29 sacks (171 yards), 48 tackles for loss (238 yards), and 26 passes batted away. McGinest received a degree in public administration from USC in 1994.[2]

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 4+12 in
(1.94 m)
255 lb
(116 kg)
34+38 in
(0.87 m)
10+18 in
(0.26 m)
4.68 s 1.59 s 2.74 s 4.19 s 34.5 in
(0.88 m)
10 ft 6 in
(3.20 m)
22 reps
All values from NFL Combine[3]

New England Patriots

McGinest was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1994 NFL draft.[4] He was one of the cornerstones for New England's success in winning the Super Bowl in 2001, 2003, and 2004. He was named to the Pro Bowl twice, in 1996 and 2003. In Super Bowl XXXIX, McGinest was used in a different manner from his regular role. While he usually lined up as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme, the Patriots moved him to the defensive line as a defensive end in an effort to keep Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb from scrambling.[5]

In a 2005 wild card playoff win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, McGinest eclipsed two NFL postseason records—most sacks in a game (4.5) and most career postseason sacks (16), surpassing Bruce Smith. His 78 career sacks rank third all time for the Patriots.

The Patriots released McGinest on March 9, 2006.[5]

Cleveland Browns

On March 15, 2006, McGinest signed with the Cleveland Browns, reuniting with head coach Romeo Crennel, who was the Patriots' defensive coordinator during McGinest's stint in New England. McGinest signed a three-year deal worth $12 million with $6 million in guarantees and bonuses. He stated in an interview prior to the 2008 season that he would be playing his final year of professional football before retiring in the offseason. In July 2009, he stated that he would like to end his career with the Patriots. On August 5, 2015, he signed a one-day contract with the Patriots during his Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony.[6][7]

Patriots franchise records

He has the most fumble return touchdowns (2) (tied with five others).[8]

NFL career statistics

Year Team GP Tackles Fumbles
Cmb Solo Ast Sck FF FR
1994 NE 16 43 29 14 4.5 2 2
1995 NE 16 86 69 17 11.0 4 0
1996 NE 16 67 49 18 9.5 2 2
1997 NE 11 35 25 10 2.0 0 3
1998 NE 9 29 20 9 3.5 1 0
1999 NE 16 74 48 26 9.0 1 2
2000 NE 14 63 45 18 6.0 1 2
2001 NE 11 33 25 8 6.0 1 0
2002 NE 16 62 42 20 5.5 0 0
2003 NE 14 67 46 21 5.5 2 2
2004 NE 16 51 36 15 9.5 2 1
2005 NE 16 56 45 11 6.0 0 1
2006 CLE 14 46 37 9 4.0 0 1
2007 CLE 13 30 19 11 3.0 0 1
2008 CLE 14 56 43 13 1.0 0 0
Career[9] 212 798 578 220 86.0 16 17

NFL Network

Following retirement, McGinest joined the NFL Network as a football analyst, and appears on various programs, including NFL Total Access. Prior to joining the NFL Network, McGinest served similar roles at Fox Sports and ESPN. McGinest was suspended from the NFL Network after his 2022 arrest, stemming from an incident in a Los Angeles nightclub.

McGinest was featured on the NFL Network's documentary series A Football Life on October 5, 2018.[10]

Legal troubles

1990 assault trial

McGinest and teammates Michael Jones and Jason Oliver were charged with battery and false imprisonment when a female USC student accused them of sexual assault on October 15, 1990.[11] The incident in question occurred on June 20 of the same year. The 23-year-old summer-school counselor said she was dragged into a dormitory room, pinned to a bed, and sexually molested. The players contend the woman entered the room voluntarily and was involved in "horseplay".[12] On June 15, 1991, the three players, including McGinest, were acquitted of all sexual assault and false imprisonment charges.[13]

2016 lawsuit

On September 30, 2016, DeAndre Parks filed a Personal Injury Lawsuit against McGinest.[14] The lawsuit claims that McGinest assaulted Parks and threatened him on multiple occasions.[15] His representative denied the charges and the suit is still pending.

2022 nightclub assault

On December 9, 2022 at the Delilah nightclub in West Hollywood, McGinest and several of his acquaintances physically assaulted a man who was sitting at a table at the lounge. McGinest can be seen in the video beating the victim and striking the man repeatedly in the head with a glass bottle while the victim was on the floor. McGinest was arrested over the incident and charged with felony assault.[16][17]

Charity work

McGinest established the Willie McGinest Freedom School, a program that aims to provide social and cultural enrichment for neighborhood youth. On May 3, 2005, the city council of Long Beach declared that every year, May 3 will be recognized as Willie McGinest Day in recognition of his charitable efforts and civic involvement. During the 2004 holiday season, McGinest sponsored "Shop with a Jock", an event that gave 50 Boston-area children the opportunity to go on a $100 shopping spree with his teammates and him. He went on to sponsor a similar event in the Cleveland area with Browns teammates.

Business and entertainment ventures

McGinest owns an entertainment company in Los Angeles called 55 Entertainment.

McGinest also appeared on S.W.A.T. in the season-two episode "The B-Team", playing Los Angeles Fire Department firefighter Ryan Cook when the LAFD goes against the Los Angeles Police Department in a charity competition.[18][19]

He has had cameo appearances in television shows such as Arli$$[20] and The Game, and had a small role as a detective in the film I Tried, with rap group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. He appeared in the Disney XD show Lab Rats[21] & Scorpion[22] as himself.


  1. ^ "2009 POLY FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME INDUCTEES - Press-Telegram". Archived from the original on May 29, 2009. Retrieved May 27, 2009.
  2. ^ "Daily Trojan | Back to school with USC legend Willie McGinest". dailytrojan.com. September 4, 2015. Archived from the original on February 10, 2019. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  3. ^ "Willie McGinest, Combine Results, DE - Southern California". nflcombineresults.com. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  4. ^ "1994 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved March 31, 2023.
  5. ^ a b "NFL Network: On Air Talent". NFL.com. Archived from the original on January 7, 2017. Retrieved January 7, 2017.
  6. ^ "Future Plc - Connectors, Creators, Experience Makers". www.futureplc.com. Archived from the original on July 2, 2021. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  7. ^ "Willie McGinest at home in Patriots Hall of Fame | New England Patriots". Archived from the original on August 11, 2017. Retrieved August 10, 2017.
  8. ^ "New England Patriots Career Defense Leaders". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on February 12, 2018. Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  9. ^ "Willie McGinest Stats". ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures. Archived from the original on July 2, 2014. Retrieved July 3, 2014.
  10. ^ "Willie McGinest's 'Football Life' delivers a winner". October 4, 2018. Archived from the original on July 3, 2021. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  11. ^ "USC Players Are Accused of Assault - latimes". Los Angeles Times. August 22, 1990. Archived from the original on October 17, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  12. ^ "Cover-Up Alleged in USC Trial - latimes". Los Angeles Times. June 7, 1991. Archived from the original on January 8, 2019. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  13. ^ "Three USC Players Are Acquitted in Assault Case : Verdict: Some jurors say they didn't believe the alleged victim's account of attack in dormitory. - latimes". Los Angeles Times. June 15, 1991. Archived from the original on January 25, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2019.
  14. ^ "Deandre Parks Vs Willie Mcginest".
  15. ^ "Willie McGinest Sued -- Allegedly KOs Man ... Hurls Gay Slurs".
  16. ^ "Ex-Patriots star Willie McGinest arrested on assault charge after nightclub incident". Ryan Glasspiegel. New York Post. December 19, 2022. Retrieved December 19, 2022.
  17. ^ "Ex-Patriots Linebacker Willie McGinest Jr. Charged With Felony For Allegedly Beating Man At West Hollywood Club". www.yahoo.com. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  18. ^ "Eric Dickerson On Role In 'S.W.A.T.': I Was Hoping I'd Be A Bad Guy'". CBSNews.com. CBS Pittsburgh. February 6, 2019. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  19. ^ "'S.W.A.T.' The B-Team". IMDb. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  20. ^ "Willie McGinest". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on July 3, 2021. Retrieved July 3, 2021.
  21. ^ Huang, Sherry (November 24, 2015). "Disney XD First Look: NFL Pro Athlete Willie McGinest on 'Lab Rats', Plus 'ESPN Sports Science' Premiere (PHOTOS)". TV Insider. Archived from the original on December 3, 2020. Retrieved July 2, 2021.
  22. ^ O'Coin, Tim (December 7, 2015). "Willie McGinest cameos on 'Scorpion'". WPRI.com. Archived from the original on July 3, 2021. Retrieved July 2, 2021.