When The Patriots Were The Punch Line - Alternative Title: Be Grateful, You Have No Frigging Idea How Bad They Once Were

jacklamabe65

A New Frontier butt boy
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I attended nearly every Boston/New England Patriots game from 1964 until ventured off to college in the autumn of 1973. For nine seasons, I saw the Pats play in four different venues in four different communities within the confines of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Some might say I was a glutton for punishment, given the perpetually wacky state of the Patriots in those days. Perhaps I enjoyed a healthy dose of tragicomedy with my football.

When I started attending their home games as a nine-year-old, the Boston Patriots were prominent members of the American Football League, a league that was often called “rinky-dink” by most scribes. By the time I was a senior in high school, the New England Patriots were part of the AFC East, a conference within the greater National Football League.

Change in professional sports came faster in those days.

As a child, I attended home games at Fenway as the guest of my father. By the time I was 15, I was, according to longtime Patriots beat writer Ron Hobson of The Quincy Patriot Ledger, the youngest season-ticket-holder in all of the professional sports. In 1970, after my father had given up his own season tickets because he could no longer be subjected to the pathos that had come to define the team, I secured a job at the Wellesley (MA) Supermarket so that I could pay my own way as a Pats season-ticket holder. Ultimately, I would spend 60 dollars yearly out of my $1.60 an hour job in order to follow what could only be depicted as disorganized insanity.

Legendary Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough, the most acclaimed chronicler of the franchise in its 60-years-plus-history, once famously called those seasons that I bore witness as “The Goofy Years.”

Indeed, they were. In fact, that may have been an understatement.

In the first five seasons of my Patriots adventure, Dad would usually drive us to their games in the Back Bay. Occasionally, however, we would take the MBTA from Woodland to Fenway Park. The local transportation authority never had extra subway cars for the team when they played at the Fens. At the time, the Pats were deemed too inconsequential by most Bay Staters. In reality, the New York Giants were the region’s number one football team for more than two decades. From 1952 until the end of the 1969 season, every Giants contest was televised live on Channel 5, WHDH Boston. Most football fans I knew growing up in the Boston area referred to the Giants as “us.”

Not me.

Of course, when we finally sat in our seats in Section 12 at Fenway Park, my father would invariably recite from Shakespeare’s Henry V, “We few; we happy few…”

Temporary bleachers covered the left-field wall at Fenway Park during the football season – room for about 5,000 fans. The left end zone stretched from short left field to the Red Sox batter’s circle. The other end zone was situated between mid-center-field to the right-field corner, 15 yards beyond the legendary Pesky Pole.

When I began following the Patriots, nearly one-third of the team was either from BC, BU, Holy Cross, or Northeastern. To save expenses for the then financially challenged Patriots, those local colleges and even high schools in the area would alternate their marching bands for the halftime entertainment. Not surprisingly, Harvard invariably found an excuse not to have its own celebrated band perform for the people at Fenway. As Dad explained before one game, “Harvard probably doesn’t accept payment in green stamps.”

If you sat in the temporary bleachers covered the left-field wall, at the end of the game, you could actually walk across the field in order to get to the exits behind the Red Sox dugout. In a game against the New York Jets in 1965, I did just that, sidling up to Broadway Joe Namath because that I wanted to see for myself if his famed white cleats were painted that way – or had he instead taped them? (They were taped on; his cleats were as white as snow).

I’m sure that wasn’t the juiciest secret from his playing days.

Because of where the Patriots played in those days, the Boston Red Sox’s shadow was everywhere. For instance, the legendary Sherm Feller supplied his distinctive calls as the public address announcer for the Patriots in the mid-1960’s. In addition, the great Ned Martin served as the team’s play-by-play man. (Such Red Sox radio announcers as Art Gleason, Bob Starr, and Curt Gowdy also broadcasted Patriots games through the years on either WHDH or WBZ). The regular Fenway ushers worked the same sections throughout the ballpark each fall. It felt like old home week every time you walked into Fenway during those years.

When I started to attend football games in the Back Bay, Dom and Emily DiMaggio had season tickets a few seats from my parents. At the time, Dom, a former Red Sox outfielder and the younger brother of the legendary Joe, was pining to purchase the Patriots outright from Billy Sullivan. From 1963-67, the younger DiMaggio was a part-owner of the team. (Sitting behind us was the young wife of Patriots defensive back, Ross O'Hanley. When Ross was on the field, the young Mrs. O'Hanley would regularly chant hall-Mary's.)

Please don't get the idea, however, that the Boston Red Sox rolled out the carpet for their neighboring football brothers. The Patriots normally practiced at decrepit White Stadium near Logan Airport because Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey refused to let them use Fenway for anything but games. In actuality, “Uncle Tom” tolerated the Patriots during those years, thus mirroring his views on African-Americans at the time. They were allowed on his field, but only at his expressed invitation.

The ever-popular Twins’ Souvenir Shop, situated on what was then known as Jersey Street, was open before all AFL games and did sell a few Patriots jerseys and banners near the famed front entrance. However, their Patriots section was pitiably small in comparison to their sizable Red Sox inventory. Nevertheless, I did purchase a Jim Nance jersey there one Sunday afternoon prior to an important Bills game in 1966.

In my first year as a fan of the Boston Patriots, 1964, the team ended up with an impressive 10-3-1 record, tied with the hated Buffalo Bills for the AFL Eastern Division. That year, they were led by such veterans as quarterback Babe Parilli, wide receiver and placekicker, Gino Cappelletti, local linebacking legend Nick Buoniconti, and the four members of “The Boston Pops,” defensive linemen Houston Antoine, Jim Hunt, Bob Dee, and Larry “Ike” Eisenhower.

In the end, the Patriots hosted an AFL game in mid-December against the rivals, the Bills, in an unforgiving blizzard – yes, we took the Green Line in for that game. (It was the only way we could have made it.) In a contest that would decide the AFL East Division Championship, over 15 inches of snow fell at Fenway that afternoon. Sadly, the Pats lost by 8 points to a Buffalo team led by their intrepid quarterback, the late Jack Kemp, who would later serve in Congress and as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Reagan Administration. Kemp was pretty successful in his first career as well. (By the way, he was “Jackie Kemp” back then until he entered politics). The ’64 Bills went on to defeat the San Diego Chargers in the league championship game, and, with a 13-2 overall record, they are still regarded as one of the most dominant AFL teams of their time. Such was the Patriots' luck.

During the Fenway days, backup offensive lineman Justin Canale used to kick off Lou Groza style. (That’s straight-on, boys and girls.) Ol’ Justin’s kickoffs would inexorably soar and then tumble out of the sky. One time, he struck a pigskin so long that it landed deep in the end zone and one-hopped into the Red Sox bullpen where it was retrieved by the legendary Fenway usher, “The Whale,” a three-hundred-pound behemoth from Southie. Needless to say, he did not attempt to return the kick.

Because the Pats were members of the American Football League, their games were occasionally covered nationally by NBC with Curt Gowdy and color man Al DeRogatis at the mike. The AFL officiating staff all wore orange and white striped shirts – the league’s official colors at the time. It was said that Al Davis chose the fierce black, silver, and white colors of his Raiders because he was so embarrassed by the AFL’s pastel color scheme.

In 1965, I witnessed the Patriots play in a classic, wide-open style AFL game – a 42-42 tie with the Oakland Raiders at Fenway that featured 13 touchdown passes, a contest that renowned football raconteur Angelo Coniglio of Buffalo once called…” the quintessential AFL game.“

In 1966, Billy Sullivan, the Patriots principal owner, a man who had once been the Boston Braves publicity director, made a big deal about having two former Heisman Trophy winners on the squad – Joe Bellino and John Huarte. Because quarterback Babe Parilli got hurt at the end of a game, Huarte was announced as the starter for the next contest. Sullivan did a big PR push on “our two Heisman winners in the Pats’ backfield.”

Of course, the first time that Huarte got the ball, he flubbed the handoff to Bellino who promptly fumbled it. One can imagine how loudly Sullivan must have groaned at that moment.

Nevertheless, for the first three years that I saw them play, the Patriots were one of the two or three most respected AFL franchises. In retrospect, they were probably the best team in the league in 1966 until they were derailed on the way to a championship by Joe Namath and the Jets on the last game of the season at Shea Stadium. Broadway Joe later admitted that he played that important game in a drunken stupor, a pre-Suzy Kobler moment for the legendary quarterback. If Namath had been sober for that game, the Pats might well have gone to the first Super Bowl. Instead, it was the Kansas City Chiefs who represented the AFL against Vince Lombardi and the mighty Green Bay Packers of the NFL. Once again, the Pats were merely a footnote in history.

In 1968, when the Patriots, who had won only 3 games the previous season and were averaging 23,000 fans at Fenway, decided to host a “home game” in Birmingham, Alabama. My father pointed out that it was nothing but Billy Sullivan trying to make another fast buck on the fly. “Look who they are playing,” he exclaimed to me before the contest, “the New York Jets! He’s trying to sell out a stadium in Alabama to take advantage of the Joe Namath connection to the Crimson Tide.” Donald Trump would have approved Billy’s acumen. And, of course, Dad was right. Fate had its revenge on Mr. Sullivan, however. Only 22,000 fans showed up at Legion Field in Birmingham that day. In retrospect, the Patriots’ “home game” turned out to be a road game. Not surprisingly, everyone in the stadium was rooting for Broadway Joe and the Jets that afternoon.

That December, in a contest between the Pats and the then-expansion Cincinnati Bengals, the city of Boston would host its last professional football game on December 20, 1968. At the end of that season, the Red Sox unceremoniously kicked the Pats out of their Back Bay perch. The rumor was that Tom Yawkey had had enough of Billy Sullivan’s shenanigans, but the public explanation was that the Red Sox field was getting too torn up as a result of some “challenging autumnal usage.”

Thus, Boston College’s Alumni Field became the Patriots home for the 1969 season with the capacity at their new venue listed as 26,500. Because the fortunes of the team had taken a turn for the worse the previous two seasons, the team had less than 13,000 season-ticket holders at the time. Therefore, the franchise would not be inconveniencing anyone with a move to nearby Chestnut Hill. As my father said when the Pats relocated to BC, “At least they’re still located on the Green Line.”

In those days before it was entirely rebuilt, Alumni Stadium was nothing more than an outsized high school field. In reality, when NBC used to show a Patriot or opposing player punting the ball, all one could see on TV was the football spiraling into the air with a veritable forest of evergreen trees in the background. (Yes, the stands were that low.) When a family friend from Ohio witnessed a game on TV at Alumni Field back in Cleveland, he remarked, “The Patriots really do play in the sticks.”

By that time, we could only shake our heads. Despite the fact that the team had played pretty well over the previous five years, the bush-league element that had always defined the owner of the Patriots worked its way down, with unexpected consequences, no matter who was representing the organization on the field. As the Pats entered a period of unswerving ineptitude that would come to define them, humiliation and embarrassment would then form the emotional bookends for us Patriots fans.

From this lens, it all began to truly unravel in 1969, when the late Clive Rush (pronounced Cleeve – not Clive), ended up coaching the team. The former offensive coordinator of the then World Champion New York Jets, Rush brought in such ex-Jets as Randy Beverly and Bake Turner to bring “a winning attitude” to the Pats.

He should have brought an electrician instead.

At a press conference introducing new General Manager George Sauer, Sr., Clive Rush almost died when a live wire he touched electrocuted him to his very core. According to those who knew him, he was never the same man again. He would last 21 games as the Patriots coach, losing 16 of them.

As the Patriots began to sputter pathetically that season, the volatile Rush began to drink – heavily. When the Pats lost a blowout game in San Diego late in the 1969 season, ol’ Clive actually ordered the bus driver to drive down the off-ramp of a California freeway in the opposite direction in order to punish the players. “We hung on for our lives,” reported one survivor of the experience. “The BC and Holy Cross graduates on the team all began to say prayers as the bus sputtered along the highway with every car whizzing by the other way.” Sadly, Coach Rush’s devotion to Scotch coupled with a team ladened with mediocrity had become a heady concoction for disaster.

The next season, 1970, the team announced that it would play its regular-season schedule at Harvard Stadium, the Crimson having acquiesced on their previous disdain for the Patriots after the team offered to front the university a rental fee in cash. However, the Stadium was not available for the preseason as the university’s president, Dr. Nathan Pusey, did not want the NCAA to somehow think that a professional team would corrupt his Harvard varsity players through repeated exposure. “Perhaps Pusey means that he doesn’t want the Crimson to play like the Patriots,” my father surmised.

Accordingly, the Pats played a well-attended game against the mighty Washington Redskins on a blistering August afternoon at BC’s Alumni Field that turned suddenly hotter.

Yes, I was there – running for my life after some malcontent had discarded a cigarette in a trash heat under the stands which had then ignited the wooden structure that served as the frame of Alumni Stadium at the time. In a scene out of a Mack Sennett short, some 10,000 of us hurled ourselves onto the field while the game was still being played, literally running for our lives. The play was immediately stopped, and we all began to mingle with the stunned players on the field. I ended up chatting with Skins’ quarterback Sonny Jurgensen as the smoke engulfed much of the Alumni Stadium.

When I returned to my seat that still felt hot to the touch, I flipped on my transistor radio to find out what had just happened. It has been left on to the local rock station in Boston at the time – WRKO. When I heard what Dale Dorman, one of the station’s deejays, was playing when I returned to my seat, all I could do was smile. Yes, it was “Fire,” by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Even our local rock station thought that the Pats were a joke.

Needless to say, Billy Sullivan’s Patriots never played at BC again.

However, they did play a preseason game in Alston at Harvard Stadium – due, of course, to the Alumni Stadium fire – against the Philadelphia Eagles in which “access” to the locker rooms was denied because the Crimson’s varsity squad was conducting preseason tryouts. Consequently, the two professional football teams had to dress for the game at the Colonnade Hotel in Cambridge.

Imagine if you were a guest in the hotel when two dressed-and-ready-to-play NFL squads began to show up in the lobby, waiting for a bus ride to Harvard Stadium. When both teams began to alight from the buses outside the Stadium for the game in full dress, my father began to shake his head and mumble to himself, “Oh, Billy, Billy…‘

A week later, at the opening game at Harvard Stadium against the Miami Dolphins, one of the Patriot's special team players, Bob “Harpo” Gladieux, who had been cut by Clive Rush the previous Thursday, decided to make a sentimental visit to see his old team play. He had “pahtied hahd” the night before, had smoked a lot of pot with a girl from Brighton, and was finishing his sixth beer in the stands before game time when he heard a blaring announcement over the Stadium’s PA system, “Bob Gladieux, please report to the Patriots locker room!”

A shout that sounded like a rifle came from the stands as “Harpo” stumbled to the locker room below the stands. He had been one of the more popular players the previous season (his long, stringy blonde hair was instantly recognizable and thus, he been given the nickname, “Harpo,” after the third Marx Brother). Remember, for the previous hour, Gladieux had been cavorting with the fans in the stands. Those same fans now found themselves erupting in laughter as Gladieux rushed to get dressed for the game. Five minutes later, much to our astonishment, we saw Harpo race in full gear onto the field just as the team lined up for the opening kickoff.

Wobbly, pale, and completely looped, Gladieux ended up making a solo tackle on the opening kickoff. The entire section at the Stadium where Harpo had been drinking shouted out in unison, “Holy shit!”

When the great Johnny Unitas and the World Champion Baltimore Colts came to Cambridge to play the Boston Patriots in October that year, the Pats miraculously played their best game of the season. With less than a minute left in a spirited contest, Gino Cappelletti struck a field goal to make the score, 7-6, Colts. Pats’ Head Coach Clive Rush then logically called for an onside kick. To his enormous surprise, the kick went to one of the up-men, Tom Matte, who picked up the ball and ran untouched for six points – and the game.

How had that occurred? Because the entire Patriots kickoff team had overrun the ball. The Colts fan sitting next to me laughed so hard that he cried. The concept of tears of joy remained unfamiliar to Patriots fans.

A few weeks later, Henry Olken, who owned the famed sporting goods store, Olken's in downtown Wellesley, paid Patriots starting quarterback Mike Taliaferro two-hundred dollars to appear at his store on Friday night. I took note and showed up with my older brother, Mark, to get his autograph and chat for a spell. When we showed up, Henry Olken practically treated us like royalty. Just two fans had shown up to shake Taliferro's hand the previous hour - with countless others avoiding the native Texan altogether. When we left, Henry Olken said, "I owe you one, Shaun." Eventually, he hired me to work there part-time, thanks to my "kindness" in showing up and greeting the Pats' QB that evening.

Later that season, when Billy Sullivan decided to sign holdout Joe Kapp, the celebrated former quarterback of the NFC Champion Minnesota Vikings, he had the temerity to put Kapp in a Patriots’ uniform after arriving in Boston two hours before game time in front of 40,000 drunken louts at Harvard Stadium.

For the next two hours, Pats fans continuously screeched and bellowed for Kapp to get into the game. When Mike Taliaferro had his bell rung in the fourth quarter, the people in the stands began to scream for Kapp to come onto the field, simultaneously cheering when Taliaferro was helped to the sidelines on a stretcher.

Of course, ol’ Joe entered the huddle not knowing a single Patriots play. Thinking quickly, Kapp fingered in the Stadium dirt where each receiver and running back should go. As Dad remarked at the time, “Only the Patriots would reintroduce the concept of pick-up football to the professional ranks.”

For the rest of the 1970 season, Kapp proved to be a failure (what a surprise). While he was a determined leader in Minnesota, he was a mediocre (at best) quarterback with an arm that reminded Dad of noodle-armed Red Sox utility man, Jose Tartabull. As my father exclaimed after watching the Patriots’ quarterback warm-up before a game, “Kapp’s throws look like kickoffs and move like hanging sliders.”

Ironically, Joe Kapp’s best game as a Boston Patriot occurred against his old Vikings team the day after a raging snowstorm in December when he nearly knocked Minnesota lineman Alan Page out after tackling him following an interception.

Another funny thing about that game: the employees of Harvard Stadium forgot to plow the ancient concrete stands. Thus, we all sat in three-foot snowdrifts, which made snowball-throwing that day a must. The referees almost called the game for the Vikings when two entire sections of fans decided to target a solitary Viking in order to hurl their snowballs at the unfortunate player, quarterback Gary Cuozzo. I well remember an entire section of fans targeting Cuozzo during one TV timeout. We (me included), threw on “three,” as is in “1, 2, 3!” and Cuozzo was nearly encased in an instant drift. A PA announcement soon warned that any more throwing of snowballs would result in a forfeit. We all thought long and hard about ending the game right there and then. When the gun finally signaled the end of that contest, another Patriot loss, it would prove to be the last game ever played by the Boston Patriots.

For the previous five years, there had been some talk that the city of Boston would build a stadium for the Patriots in South Boston. In fact, a design for a domed stadium in South Boston had even been approved by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1966, only to see funding halted when the local reps came to their senses.

By 1969, legendary sports icon, Bill Veeck, who ran Suffolk Downs at the time, actually offered the infield of his racetrack to be converted to a playing field for the Pats. “We could have a series of horse races at halftime!” Veeck exclaimed to stunned reporters one afternoon. Never a man to say no, owner Billy Sullivan actually considered the idea for a spell.

However, by 1970, the wheel of fortune had turned for the franchise. When Phil and David Fine offered a generous land grant on the grounds of the Foxboro Racetrack, the Pats announced a move to that Southeastern Massachusetts community for the 1971 season.

One day, my brothers and I decided to scout out the team’s new location as construction began that winter. We soon noticed a sign on the Bay State Racetrack that proclaimed proudly, “Welcome – Bay State Patriots!”

Yes, Billy Sullivan had impulsively changed his team’s home name in order to honor the racetrack that had saved his franchise. Thankfully, it took an intervention on behalf of NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to have the Pats’ owner change the name from the Bay State to the New England Patriots.

We were there in August of 1971 for the opening game – a preseason contest against the hated New York Giants. A stadium that had been built in less than 200 days and cost only six million dollars had a myriad of problems that day, not the least, of course, were toilets that would not flush and a traffic flow that would not budge. The two season-ticket owners next to me finally arrived midway through the third quarter after fighting traffic for three hours on Route 1. Not surprisingly, there was a flood in one underground restroom which seeped out of one of the exits and began slowly to spill onto the field – on the Patriots side, of course.

When Schaefer Stadium officially opened up with a regular season contest against the hated Oakland Raiders a few weeks later, some Pats fans hired a local airplane sign firm out of Norwood Airport that flew over the Stadium with a banner that read, “Keep Gayle Knief!” At the time, Gayle Knief was a hardworking, overachieving, diminutive wide receiver who had just been cut earlier the previous week by Head Coach John Mazur.

“Who the fuck is Gayle Knief?” a Raider fan asked me when he saw the plane’s sign lingering overhead.

Mazur, who had taken over when Clive Rush resigned in November 1970, had his problems with bigger-name players as well. Enigmatic running back Duane Thomas of the Dallas Cowboys was traded to the Patriots early on in Coach Mazur’s tenure. During the 1971 training camp at Amherst, the Patriots’ coaching staff insisted that Thomas get down in a three-point stance, something the former Cowboy hadn’t done since junior high school. Coach John Mazur kicked Thomas off the field, and Thomas then returned to Dallas on the next plane where he later helped Dallas win another Super Bowl.

While 1971 saw the team improve with its heralded pair of Stanford rookies, quarterback Jim Plunkett and wide receiver, Randy Vataha, the team suffered another setback the subsequent year. Ultimately, former Green Bay Packers Coach Phil Bengtson replaced John Mazur as the interim head coach in the middle of that horrendous campaign. Bengston, who had been Vince Lombardi’s number one assistant and had even replaced him as the Packers coach, quit as Patriots head coach at season’s end saying, “That’s it. I am never going to do anything connected to pro football again.” A man who had devoted his life to the sport for almost four decades refused to associate himself with football on any level ever again. Like many people, the Patriots had killed his spirit for the game.

One of the most popular players on the team during the Mazur-Bengtson years was Steve Kiner, the team’s own version of the Red Sox’ iconoclastic pitcher, Bill Lee. Kiner also happened to be a pretty damn good linebacker at the time. In reality, Steve was a long-haired, mustached Californian who actually resided in a VW bus in the Schaffer Stadium parking lot along with his hippie girlfriend from San Mateo. According to people in the know, he and his babe used to smoke pot mixed with granola on the bus and then take long walks around the parking lot. It was well known that Steve was an avowed Deadhead; “Truckin'” and “Box of Rain” could be heard blaring from his VW bus all hours of the day. When you walked by his digs in the parking lot back then, it invariably reminded you of Woodstock. Thus, when I sauntered by his van one day on my way to buy season tickets, it was not at all surprising to see him out there smoking a bone. After I greeted him one afternoon, Steve Kiner shouted out to me, “Dude!”

Kiner’s best buddy on the Pats at the time was fellow linebacker Jim Cheyunski, who had been working at a local gas station in nearby Canton, MA when one of the team coaches stopped by for a fill-up. The coach was so impressed with “Chey’s” physique that he invited him to try out for the team. The former gas attendant soon found himself in the starting lineup. “It beats filling up 500 cars with gas each work shift,” he admitted to Will McDonough that fall.

In 1972, in their first foray in Foxboro on ABC’s Monday Night Football the day before the presidential election, the Pats decided to hire a circus performer named “Jumping Joe” Garlick to jump from 300 feet above the stadium and free-fall to a large ballooned mattress in the middle of the field during halftime. Just as the circus aerialist jumped, a gust of wind picked up, and his descent suddenly seemed out-of-kilter, Jumping Joe ended up landing half on the edge of the mattress and nearly died. After Garlick staggered off the field, the fan next to me muttered, “I wonder if that guy works for the McGovern campaign?”

At the end of the 1972 season, I gave up my season tickets, knowing that I would be heading 1,300 miles south for college the next season. While I had seen the Patriots in triumph, it had been the lovable losers – the Mel Witts, the Ike Lassiters, the Halvor Hagans, and the Johnny Outlaws who had won me over beginning with the first time I saw them in person in September 1964. They might have been hapless, but they were mine.

And, so, when I see what the franchise has achieved over the last two decades – Colin Cowherd recently called them the greatest dynasty in professional sports’ history since the dawn of free agency – I still shake my head in wonder.

What would my late father, who died more than 35 years ago, say about all of this? Probably something along the lines of - “Well, son, it’s obvious that Billy Sullivan doesn’t own the team anymore. And it’s sure a hell of a long way from the days of ‘Bring Back Gayle Knief!“
 
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Feb 19, 2015
3,865
Great post! So many things I didn't know about. I thought I had it bad having started following in '77 and watching ever since, but wow now I know how wrong that is.
 

gryoung

Member
SoSH Member
Excellent summary of the Pats’ history. I can identify with all of the details as I began following the team in the late 60’s as well.

Couple of additional memories:

The Pats’ brash rookie running back in 1969 (Carl Garrett) who proclaimed he would beat out out the overall number 1 pick (OJ Simpson) for ROY. And he did.

The standing ovation given to the Pats’ #1 pick (Jim Plunkett) the night of the Scheffer Stadium opening preseason game against the Giants when he overthrew the receiver by about 30 yards. He had thrown the ball about 70 yards in the air and the fans hadn’t seen that arm strength before.

When my “guy” told me that he was also providing the same service to Steve Kiner. That explained a lot.

Good times. Been playing with house money for a couple of decades.
 

Harry Hooper

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
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Jan 4, 2002
29,528
Great read. I had no idea Bill Veeck ever ran Suffolk Downs.

Sidenote: The Ray Fitzgerald column about the series of failed stadium plans is one of his best. Used copies of his Touching All Bases compendium are listed on Amazon for about $700, BTW.
 
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bankshot1

Member
SoSH Member
Feb 12, 2003
21,042
where I was last at
Great post Sean

One of my dad's closest friends became a season ticket holder on day 1 in 1960 and I was lucky enough to be a beneficiary of a freebie to see what I think was the Pats first game in Boston, an exhibition game played at Harvard Stadium in I think August of 1960. I became a fan early on, but kept dual citizenship as my NFL team was the Giants and it was easy to root for both teams, But by the time of the merger, my hometown allegiance took hold.

During the formative 60s, for me and the Pats, I got to see a lot of memorable games (mostly at Fenway) including a Friday night game where Gino kicked a game winning FG into the bullpen at 0:00 (against the Oilers). an amazing 4th qtr Namath led comeback, where he threw for close to 200 yards in the 4th qtr, , to lead Jets back from a 24-7 hole (ended 24-24), and a Jim Nance 65 yard rumble in a December snow storm to beat the Bills and clinch the division. (and I was on the news that night!)

Great times.
 

jacklamabe65

A New Frontier butt boy
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Great post Sean

One of my dad's closest friends became a season ticket holder on day 1 in 1960 and I was lucky enough to be a beneficiary of a freebie to see what I think was the Pats first game in Boston, an exhibition game played at Harvard Stadium in I think August of 1960. I became a fan early on, but kept dual citizenship as my NFL team was the Giants and it was easy to root for both teams, But by the time of the merger, my hometown allegiance took hold.

During the formative 60s, for me and the Pats, I got to see a lot of memorable games (mostly at Fenway) including a Friday night game where Gino kicked a game winning FG into the bullpen at 0:00 (against the Oilers). an amazing 4th qtr Namath led comeback, where he threw for close to 200 yards in the 4th qtr, , to lead Jets back from a 24-7 hole (ended 24-24), and a Jim Nance 65 yard rumble in a December snow storm to beat the Bills and clinch the division. (and I was on the news that night!)

Great times.
The Bo Nance run made it as a SI cover - although it was in black and white. We were there as well and cherished the memory.
 

mwonow

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 4, 2005
6,145
Thanks Jack - that was a great use of a chunk of Saturday morning!
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
12,355
Santa Monica, CA
That was an amazing read, thank you.

You might consider submitting that to one of the Boston sports websites as a feature - it deserves to be read beyond SOSH!

I don't care how many times people tell me the Harpo story - it's just absolutely the best.
 

54thMA

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Aug 15, 2012
8,336
Westwood MA
What an awesome post and a great read.

I was 7 when my Dad took me to my first every Boston Patriots game at Fenway Park vs the Houston Oilers, October 13th, 1968, it was the final year they would play their home games at Fenway. I'll never, ever forget when we walked up the ramp and the first thing I saw was the temporary bleachers up against the green monster.

We were sitting about 10 rows behind the Red Sox dugout, when the Patriots came running out in their classic uniforms, it was the thrill of my life up until then.

My Dad and I had a great time, they lost 16-0; I remember at one point my Dad asked me if I wanted to leave, I told him "No, they still might come back to win"..............an older gentleman sitting in front of us turned around and said "He hasn't been a fan of the Patriots very long has he?"

The Dad of a high school friend of mine had season tickets from the first year they were in Foxboro, it was himself and his brother, his Dad, his Dad's business partner and his two sons.

After the Bears Super Bowl, his Dad and his Dad's business partner wanted to give up the tickets, my friend wanted to keep them, so it was him, his brother, myself and three of our friends, the six of us had season tickets up until the 1-15 Rod Rust "I'm proud of my men" season, then we gave them up for good.

We had a lot of fun at the games, most of those years, they were not very good, but we didn't care, we all loved the Patriots, we all still do.

The 6 of us would get together on Sundays to watch them, the Parcells years, the Super Bowl loss to the Packers (I'll never forgive Parcells for that, he had two feet out the door before that game and mailed it in), the "Pumped and Jacked" years, then the Belichick era.

We were all at a house party for the Rams Super Bowl; when that kick sailed through the uprights, the 6 of us went crazy.

I immediately called my Dad; he was so happy, he also reminded me of the time we went to that game at Fenway.

I am happy for you that they have been so successful the past 20 or so years; it's fans like you who truly deserve a championship.

Or six.
 

54thMA

Member
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Aug 15, 2012
8,336
Westwood MA
Thanks, friends, for your incredible comments. A point I forgot to make above - the red uniforms they wore at Fenway were the most beautiful shade of red I've ever seen on a football field.
Ain't that the truth.

Not sure why, but the white on white with the red and blue sprinkled in really popped for me.

And don't get me started on the helmet.

On the way out of Fenway that day, they had a stand set up with souvenirs, my Dad bought me a Patriots helmet.

I still have it, it's one of my most prized possessions.
 

mwonow

Member
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Sep 4, 2005
6,145
Playing off the title:

basically, they were the Jets before the Jets were the Jets
Yes, yes that's true.

A "Celebrating what is" thread for the Jets would be very odd. Like - when could it have launched? What would it have included since? How many optimistic posters would have jumped off bridges by now?
 

Jordu

Member
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Apr 30, 2003
7,551
Brookline
Wonderful memories and a winning piece of writing, Shaun. Thank you. Now go publish it and get paid.

The awfulness of those Patriots were ingrained so deeply into the region‘s psyche that even as late as the 1990s the Watch Hospital on Bromfield Street had a old photocopied gag hanging above the door to the back room that read: ”Will the woman who left her eleven kids at Schaefer Stadium please pick them up? They’re leading the Patriots 21-0 at halftime.”
 

bernardsamuel

Member
SoSH Member
Jan 4, 2006
184
Denver, only physically
Like many others here, I am in awe of jacklamabe65's story-telling talent and very appreciative of his topic-choice, as my 74 year old brain often has clearer memories of childhood events than of what I had for lunch yesterday. My Boston Patriots memories go back marginally earlier, as I remember Butch Songin as the original quarterback and my father of blessed memory telling me - as was reported in the original post above - that Dom DiMaggio (my father was a CPA in private practice and Dom, including his American Latex Fibre (sic) Corp., was his client) had become one of the original owners of the Boston Patriots.

I have one trivial element of confusion/curiosity with the saga that opens this thread. I grew up at 132 Seaver Street next to the gas station at the corner of Humboldt, so we lived across from Franklin Park, and I remember White Stadium being beyond the zoo in Franklin Park rather than near Logan Airport. Was there another White Stadium or is Franklin Park considered to be near Logan (I live in Baltimore these days, and haven't lived in Mass. since 1980, so the fog in my brain is hopefully forgivable)?

I'll close with one last and very fond recollection. When my father passed in 1970, one of the most thoughtful recognitions was Dom's contribution to a church to have masses said to honor my father's memory. My father as a Holocaust escaper (got out of Vienna just in time in 1938. as Hitler wasn't pleased with Jewish lawyers) would have thoroughly appreciated that gesture. ...and I thoroughly appreciate jacklamabe65 who is on my list of people I'd like to join me for lunch and maybe reminisce also about the baseball games played by otherwise-retired major leaguers at Cleveland Circle.
 

Harry Hooper

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29,528
White Stadium is near Franklin Park. I am guessing the Pats practiced at Memorial Stadium in East Boston near the airport.
 

jacklamabe65

A New Frontier butt boy
Lifetime Member
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Like many others here, I am in awe of jacklamabe65's story-telling talent and very appreciative of his topic-choice, as my 74 year old brain often has clearer memories of childhood events than of what I had for lunch yesterday. My Boston Patriots memories go back marginally earlier, as I remember Butch Songin as the original quarterback and my father of blessed memory telling me - as was reported in the original post above - that Dom DiMaggio (my father was a CPA in private practice and Dom, including his American Latex Fibre (sic) Corp., was his client) had become one of the original owners of the Boston Patriots.

I have one trivial element of confusion/curiosity with the saga that opens this thread. I grew up at 132 Seaver Street next to the gas station at the corner of Humboldt, so we lived across from Franklin Park, and I remember White Stadium being beyond the zoo in Franklin Park rather than near Logan Airport. Was there another White Stadium or is Franklin Park considered to be near Logan (I live in Baltimore these days, and haven't lived in Mass. since 1980, so the fog in my brain is hopefully forgivable)?

I'll close with one last and very fond recollection. When my father passed in 1970, one of the most thoughtful recognitions was Dom's contribution to a church to have masses said to honor my father's memory. My father as a Holocaust escaper (got out of Vienna just in time in 1938. as Hitler wasn't pleased with Jewish lawyers) would have thoroughly appreciated that gesture. ...and I thoroughly appreciate jacklamabe65 who is on my list of people I'd like to join me for lunch and maybe reminisce also about the baseball games played by otherwise-retired major leaguers at Cleveland Circle.
The luncheon date is on,, my friend! Thank you for your sage insight!
 

fiskful of dollars

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Jul 14, 2005
2,166
Charlottesville, VA
Read this on a long road trip...what a wonderful way to pass the time. Beautifully written - thank you!
I came along as a huge Pats fan living in VA in the mid-70's. Transplanted from Maine, Pats were never on TV. My grandmother would send me Pats gear for Christmas every year - it was the only way to get any NE merch. First loves were Plunkett, Vataha, Mac Herron, Sam Bam Cunningham, Mike Haynes. I remember my uncles taking me up to Schaefer. They would get schnockered (on Schaefer, I think) and regale me with stories of the inept 60's teams. My God, they were the best times- even though we would routinely get poleaxed by the visitors.
 

Dahabenzapple2

Mr. McGuire
SoSH Member
Jun 20, 2011
8,157
Wayne, NJ
Jingle-Joints Ron Sellers
My dad used to say he would get hurt getting out of bed. My Dad took me to a practice when they signed Joe Kapp. We went to the first regular season game at Schaefer Stadium with his friend long time season ticket holder, Fred Currier. Beat the Raiders 20-6. I was 11 and I thought it was the start of something big. So did they. Mr. Currier had been going to the games since the very beginning. Sadly he passed away long before the last 20 years. My Dad did get to watch and still tries despite just turning 90 and being very frail.

my favorite player in my early years ended up being Randy Vataha and we all were hoping Plunkett would be the savior. As a pre teen I was buying in completely!!!
 

koufax32

He'll cry if he wants to...
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Dec 8, 2006
7,999
Duval
I’m 42, so born in ‘79. In years past, I’ve had open house night at the various schools I’ve taught in where students and parents stop by each classroom. I always have some Patriots and Sox gear displayed near my desk. I will occasionally get a parent whose hatred for the Pats makes them lose their cool a little. A couple of times, a parent has mumbled something and then walked out of the room while calling me a front runner. I just laugh and thank them for assuming I’m much younger than I am.
Those pre-Bledsoe days were a tough time to be in 5th, 6th, 7th grades. That age so desperately wants to be winners, we just kind of stuck the Pats on the back burner until they’re not 2-14. Between that and the high school aluminum bleachers at Foxborough, it just felt like we were visiting the NFL and not a serious part of it. I guess that’s what makes the last 20 years so much sweeter.
 

rymflaherty

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Jun 27, 2010
3,080
Norfolk
I was born and raised in CT, and I didn’t have a single peer that was a Patriots fan growing up. The only Patriots fan I knew of, period, was one of my fathers friends.
It wasn’t until 96’ that I started noticing anyone paying attention, then by the time I left in 05’ almost all you saw in my town was Patriots gear.
I thought it was lame and made me more resolute in the fact that I had decided to be a Dolphins fan.
 

54thMA

Member
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Aug 15, 2012
8,336
Westwood MA
I’m 42, so born in ‘79. In years past, I’ve had open house night at the various schools I’ve taught in where students and parents stop by each classroom. I always have some Patriots and Sox gear displayed near my desk. I will occasionally get a parent whose hatred for the Pats makes them lose their cool a little. A couple of times, a parent has mumbled something and then walked out of the room while calling me a front runner. I just laugh and thank them for assuming I’m much younger than I am.
Those pre-Bledsoe days were a tough time to be in 5th, 6th, 7th grades. That age so desperately wants to be winners, we just kind of stuck the Pats on the back burner until they’re not 2-14. Between that and the high school aluminum bleachers at Foxborough, it just felt like we were visiting the NFL and not a serious part of it. I guess that’s what makes the last 20 years so much sweeter.
A lot of lean years as a kid growing up a diehard Patriots fan, sprinkled in where huge disappointments, then they finally broke through and got to a Super Bowl.

And got demolished.

But at the time, I was just happy that they made it to the Super Bowl, winning the AFCCG in the Orange Bowl and wiping away all those demons and being able to see it in person was to me my personal Super Bowl, just like 2004 only unlike the Red Sox, they could not finish the job.

The Super Bowl loss to the Packers really stung, that was a winnable game, Parcells screwed that team over royally.

The win vs the Rams was a tiny notch below 2004 Red Sox for me, but it was still tremendous and being able to celebrate it with my former season ticket holder friends was a real gift.

To me, going through what I did from 1968 until 2000 was worth it to be able to hang in there and see what 2001-2020 has brought.

The Super Bowl loss to the Giants that wrecked the perfect season will always be an open wound with me, but really, this organization owes me nothing.

They've been a joy to watch for 53 years for me personally, that's all I can ask for as a fan.
 

Buck Showalter

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Feb 26, 2002
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I have one trivial element of confusion/curiosity with the saga that opens this thread. I grew up at 132 Seaver Street next to the gas station at the corner of Humboldt, so we lived across from Franklin Park, and I remember White Stadium being beyond the zoo in Franklin Park rather than near Logan Airport. Was there another White Stadium or is Franklin Park considered to be near Logan (I live in Baltimore these days, and haven't lived in Mass. since 1980, so the fog in my brain is hopefully forgivable)?
Bernard,

The stadium at Logan Airport in East Boston was sometimes "erroneously" called White Stadium --- and confused many people with the true White Stadium (that you're referring to in Roxbury).

"White" Stadium was the moniker given to "Airport Stadium" because of its tall white stadium structure (that still exists today).

The Boston Patriots did - however - practice at "Airport Stadium".

About ten years ago, I attended a Red Sox - Mets game at Fenway and sat next to Patrick Sullivan (son of Billy). He remembered being a little tike, holding his father's hand to see the Boston Patriots practice at Airport Stadium. He lamented about about the chilly east wind that peppered the open field - since the Atlantic Ocean was but a couple of miles away.

Great stuff as always from JackLamabe.

In my eyes - he's the David Halberstam of SOSH.
 

bernardsamuel

Member
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Jan 4, 2006
184
Denver, only physically
Bernard,

The stadium at Logan Airport in East Boston was sometimes "erroneously" called White Stadium --- and confused many people with the true White Stadium (that you're referring to in Roxbury).

"White" Stadium was the moniker given to "Airport Stadium" because of its tall white stadium structure (that still exists today).

The Boston Patriots did - however - practice at "Airport Stadium".

About ten years ago, I attended a Red Sox - Mets game at Fenway and sat next to Patrick Sullivan (son of Billy). He remembered being a little tike, holding his father's hand to see the Boston Patriots practice at Airport Stadium. He lamented about about the chilly east wind that peppered the open field - since the Atlantic Ocean was but a couple of miles away.

Great stuff as always from JackLamabe.

In my eyes - he's the David Halberstam of SOSH.
Thanks, Buck, for de-confusing me as regards White Stadium. ...and you and I do concur that JL65 is among "The Best and the Brightest" on this board!
 

j-man

Member
Dec 19, 2012
2,269
Arkansas
great read i really enjoyed it

the 1st pats game i watched was 1994 aga minn when bledoe threw the ball like 60 times that was a fun game to watch

the first super bowl i watched was u aga green bay i wanted NE to win because i had a cursh on my 7th/8th grade teacher from new hamp she just moved to arkansas because her husband was from the area and man she was up/down one day she would be your best friend and the next she would scream at u and be passionate at the time that was new to me and not used to that she is a big cetelis and pats fan did not like the red sox she likes baitmore that puzzle me she still is teaching at the same school 25 years latter
 

Old Fart Tree

the maven of meat
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Lol I immediately thought “had to be the game against the Vikes when they were down 17 or 20 and then Bledsoe hit Turner for the walkoff”
 

BaseballJones

ivanvamp
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Oct 1, 2015
13,691
For me the nadir was the 1992 season. They were 1-15 two years before under Rod Rust, then they hired Dick MacPherson, who had done a fabulous job at my school, Syracuse. I was excited to see “my” coach coach “my” NFL team. And they improved to 6-10 in 1991 and the team seemed headed in the right direction. Then McPherson had health issues and it all came crashing down in an epically bad 2-14 1992 campaign. It was the worst because the Pats sucked, “my” coach was sick and terrible, and the team suddenly seemed like it would never be good again.
 

Captaincoop

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Jul 16, 2005
12,355
Santa Monica, CA
For me the nadir was the 1992 season. They were 1-15 two years before under Rod Rust, then they hired Dick MacPherson, who had done a fabulous job at my school, Syracuse. I was excited to see “my” coach coach “my” NFL team. And they improved to 6-10 in 1991 and the team seemed headed in the right direction. Then McPherson had health issues and it all came crashing down in an epically bad 2-14 1992 campaign. It was the worst because the Pats sucked, “my” coach was sick and terrible, and the team suddenly seemed like it would never be good again.
That 6-10 team felt like something special at the time. That's how bad things were.

Someone above described that it felt like the Patriots were just visitors in the NFL, not really part of it. That is absolutely accurate. Even when they made the run to the SB in 1985, it felt like they were interlopers and weren't supposed to be there (they weren't - we were supposed to get a rematch of Marino vs. the Bears after he pinned them with their only loss of the year on MNF earlier that fall).

I started following the team in the early 80's, and the first time I truly felt they were the equals of "real" NFL teams like the Steelers or Cowboys or whatever was when Parcells came and had Bledsoe.
 

Bowhemian

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Nov 10, 2015
3,688
Bow, NH
I started following the team in the early 80's, and the first time I truly felt they were the equals of "real" NFL teams like the Steelers or Cowboys or whatever was when Parcells came and had Bledsoe.
Completely agree with the bolded. I've been a fan since the mid-70's, and my view is that Parcells absolutely saved the franchise. Of course, the way he left the franchise was a disaster, but that's a different story.
 

lexrageorge

Member
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Jul 31, 2007
13,010
That 6-10 team felt like something special at the time. That's how bad things were.

Someone above described that it felt like the Patriots were just visitors in the NFL, not really part of it. That is absolutely accurate. Even when they made the run to the SB in 1985, it felt like they were interlopers and weren't supposed to be there (they weren't - we were supposed to get a rematch of Marino vs. the Bears after he pinned them with their only loss of the year on MNF earlier that fall).

I started following the team in the early 80's, and the first time I truly felt they were the equals of "real" NFL teams like the Steelers or Cowboys or whatever was when Parcells came and had Bledsoe.
There was certainly evidence that the NFL was doing everything in its power to get the Patriots to move out of New England. Especially when the league arranged the sale from Kiam to Orthwein, who made no secret that his #1 goal was to get a team back in St Louis after the Cardinals decamped to the desert. Parcells brought some measure of respect to the franchise, and he made the right call in drafting Bledsoe, a sea change after the team bungled the prior year's draft. But it still took Kraft to save the team with what the mediots called an outlandish offer to purchase.
 

Garshaparra

lurker
Feb 27, 2008
230
McCarver's Mushy Mouth
I was a (front-running) WFT fan in the 80s, with the specious reasoning that I was born in Maryland, though I'd lived near Boston virtually my whole life. The Pats were middling at that time, but I enjoyed their run to SBXX, especially Squish The Fish. By the 90s, I was following the Pats as my AFC team, even with WFT enjoying continued success. I was a rabid consumer of the Globe sports section, and had huge hopes as we signed Hugh Millen to the biggest contract in team history (first Patriot to have a million dollar contract, IIRC - see https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=19920714&slug=1501994 for confirmation). This...did not work out. However, Bledsoe came along immediately thereafter, and with Parcells, we were at least in the running ever since.
 

cornwalls@6

Less observant than others
SoSH Member
Apr 23, 2010
3,251
from the wilds of western ma
What a great read @jacklamabe65 . Thanks for that. My fandom didn't start until the mid 70's, when my family moved to MA from D.C. The mini-Mack Herron/Sam Cunningham team was probably the first one I followed, leading into Grogan, '76, and '78. To be honest, as a younger kid I dabbled with a couple of teams, before settling exclusively into the Pats in the early/mid 80's. A decade of even more futility and often embarrassment followed, before, IMO, Parcells, and the Krafts, forever changed the perception/expectations, and culture of the franchise. To have witnessed, and seen virtually every game of the BB/TB era has been a pleasure beyond anything I could have ever imagined with them.
 

Van Everyman

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Apr 30, 2009
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This is seriously one of my Top 5 Favorite SoSH Posts. Kudos, @jacklamabe65.

Old stories about the Patriots being a joke under Billy Sullivan never get old. There’s one in a book that came out after the Panthers SB win, I can’t remember the title, about Don King’s dalliance with Chuck Sullivan during the Jackson’s Victory Tour, which bankrupted Billy and forced him to sell the team during their first SB run. The quote from Don King was absolutely priceless, something to the effect of “I always used to think of Harvard as the leading light of America. Located in the shining city on the hill. A place where anything is possible. Then I met Chuck Sullivan. And I thought, ‘This motherfucker went to Harvard?’”
 

Was (Not Wasdin)

family crest has godzilla
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Jul 26, 2007
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89 and 90 combined was the low point for me. In 1989, when they should have been pretty good, Veris, Tippett and Lippett all got hurt in that last preseason game, and the 89 season was shot. Then, having learned nothing from the Jerry Rice trade, they made that stupid trade where they flipped the #3 pick to seattle for 8 and 10, trading the chance to draft either Cortez Kennedy or Junior Seau for the immortal Chris Singleton and Ray Agnew (This trade is even worse looking back on it-the Pats also flipped Seattle the #29 pick). Then the fight with Fryar and Hart Lee Dykes where Dykes took a shot to the eye and ended up out of football. The harassment of Lisa Olson. All the BS with the stadium bankruptcy. That 1990 team had no talent, no good prospects, terrible coaching, and the stadium was a shithole. None of the home games sold out, so my roomates and I would sometimes go visit my parents for Sunday dinner so we could watch the games (they got them on the then-NBC affiliate out of Springfield, Channel 22 I think).

I dont think people realize how close the Pats came to going 0-16 in 1990. Their one win was against the Colts, in a game where rookie QB Jeff George threw 4 or 5 picks and they won on a late field goal. Their point differential was -265, which is one of the worst in league history.
 

Humphrey

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Aug 3, 2010
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This was one tidbit from the 1990 season finale. "The game was played before 60,410 for the Patriots' first sellout of the season. Reportedly, 36,000 tickets had been sold to Giants fans in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, and the crowd was decidedly partisan toward the visiting Giants. "
 

8slim

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Nov 6, 2001
17,202
Unreal America
Fantastic post! I grew up in Foxboro, and there were no small number of Dolphins, Raiders, Cowboys and WFT fans amongst my peers at the Charles G. Taylor Elementary School in the early 80s. That's how damaged the Pats brand was back then -- even kids who lived 3 miles from the stadium wouldn't root for them.

When I was in high school, I worked as a delivery driver for a florist in town. The day of the 1990 home opener, someone ordered an arrangement to be delivered to the owner's box at the stadium. The crowd was so light that day, I was able to drive the shop's Ford Econoline van right up Route 1 to the front parking lot, idle it double-parked at the old "luxury suite" entrance, and bring the flowers inside to be sent up. It was like delivering flowers to a half-deserted office park.

A lot has changed, that's for sure.
 

54thMA

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Aug 15, 2012
8,336
Westwood MA
This was one tidbit from the 1990 season finale. "The game was played before 60,410 for the Patriots' first sellout of the season. Reportedly, 36,000 tickets had been sold to Giants fans in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, and the crowd was decidedly partisan toward the visiting Giants. "
That was the last game I attended as a season ticket holder; there were a shit ton of Giants fans there, it was like a home game for them, that was the last straw for me, no way was I going to keep attending games where the visiting teams fans outnumbered Patriots fans, they went 0 for home that year, enough was enough.
 

Granite Sox

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Feb 6, 2003
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39.932N, -85.848W
I always loved the story of the 1981 Monday Night Football game where Pats fans were so unruly that they were handcuffed to the chain link fences so the cops could restore order. Memorialized by the ITP guys here. The Pats didn’t host another MNF game for 14 years after that.

Then there was the 1985 game against the Bengals when fans stormed the field during a storm, tore down the goalposts and headed for the parking lot, only to be halted when some of the fans were electrocuted when the goalpost came in contact with a live wire.
Zap!
 

lexrageorge

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Jul 31, 2007
13,010
I always loved the story of the 1981 Monday Night Football game where Pats fans were so unruly that they were handcuffed to the chain link fences so the cops could restore order. Memorialized by the ITP guys here. The Pats didn’t host another MNF game for 14 years after that.

Then there was the 1985 game against the Bengals when fans stormed the field during a storm, tore down the goalposts and headed for the parking lot, only to be halted when some of the fans were electrocuted when the goalpost came in contact with a live wire.
Zap!
That 1981 game was a 35-21 loss to the Cowboys that dropped the Pats to 0-3 en route to a 2-14 season. Their prize was the opportunity to select eventual bust Ken Sims with the top pick of the 1982 draft. The town of Foxboro basically threatened to pull the stadium's liquor license if the Pats hosted another MNF game; nobody seemed to care at that point.

It was also on a Monday Night Football telecast involving the Patriots, who were playing the Dolphins in Miami in 1980, during which Howard Cosell announced to the world that Jon Lennon was shot dead in NYC. The Patriots John Smith missed a field goal that would have given the Patriots a lead late in the 4th quarter; the Pats lost 16-13 in overtime. As a result of the loss, the Pats would finish 10-6 and miss the playoffs, as 5 other teams in the AFC finished with 11-5 records.

EDIT: FWIW, that Bengals game, which the Pats needed to win to make the playoffs, was blacked out locally because it was not sold out.

You literally could not make this stuff up.
 
Last edited:

lexrageorge

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Jul 31, 2007
13,010
That was the last game I attended as a season ticket holder; there were a shit ton of Giants fans there, it was like a home game for them, that was the last straw for me, no way was I going to keep attending games where the visiting teams fans outnumbered Patriots fans, they went 0 for home that year, enough was enough.
I was living in LA on a temporary work assignment that fall. Not sure if there was a single Pats game televised on the local broadcasts. I was back home in Boston for the final game; because of the generosity of the Giants fans coming up to watch their team, the game was televised in Boston area, the only game that season that was not blacked out locally. Typically, maybe one home game per season would be sold out in time to allow it to be broadcast locally (some seasons none).

The funny part about that game is that after falling behind 10-0, the Patriots tied it up behind Tommy Hodson's 4th TD pass that season and a Jason Staurovsky field goal. You could literally see the steam coming out of Bill Parcells head. But future Patriot kicker Matt Bahr would kick a field goal to end the half, and the Giants defense stifled the Patriots the rest of the way to put that 1990 team out of its misery.

The Pats prize was the top pick in one of the worst NFL drafts in recent memory. The Pats traded the pick and ended up with Pat Harlow (OK) and Leonard Russell (one year semi-wonder). Dallas drafted Russell Maryland. The Pats did at least get Ben Coates and their radio color announcer out of that draft, so it at least wasn't all bad. The more astute football fans will recognize that draft as the one where Brett Favre was drafted by the Falcons in the 2nd round. And among running backs drafted after Leonard Russell was Ricky Watters, who appeared in 5 more Pro Bowls than Russell.

And there were two players in that draft that did play a key role in the Pats Super Bowl era. The 49'ers selected nose tackle Ted Washington with the 25th pick, and big Ted would end up coming to New England to play a key role in contributing to the 2003 team's Lombardi. The other player was drafted in the 3rd round, appeared in 3 Pro Bowls and was named to the All Pro once:

With the 63rd pick of the NFL draft, the New York Jets select linebacker out of Georgia, Mo Lewis

Should note that the Patriots selected Calvin Stephens at the top of the 3rd round.
 

am_dial

Member
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Jul 15, 2005
430
Western Mass
Am I remembering correctly that in the ‘80s, when most of the games were blacked out locally, the Boston TV news crews would film their own highlights of the game to broadcast (since presumably there was no NBC or CBS crew there to film them)? I feel like I often saw replays filmed at sideline height on the TV sports segments after the game.