Willie McGinest is a former NFL linebacker. McGinest attended USC, where he 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.
McGinest was drafted by the New England Patriots in the first round (fourth overall) of the 1994 NFL Draft. 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. 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 (all records stand as of 2021).
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. On August 5, 2015, he signed a one-day contract with the Patriots during his Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony.