Boston Sports Franchises: New England Patriots
April 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Super Bowl Championships: XXXVI (2001), XXXVIII (2003), XXXIX (2004)
Retired Numbers: #20 Gino Cappelletti, #40 Mike Haynes, #56 Andre Tippett, #57 Steve Nelson, #73 John Hannah, #78 Bruce Armstrong, #79 Jim Hunt, #89 Bob Dee
Rivals: New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts
In November of 1959, Boston businessman Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final franchise of the developing AFL. The new team, the Patriots, struggled during their tenure in the AFL, as they never had a home stadium, which made it difficult to establish a permanent presence to bolster fanhood. Nickerson Field, Harvard Stadium, Fenway Park, and Alumni Stadium all served as home fields during the Patriots’ time in the AFL. However, they did play in one AFL championship game in 1963, in which they lost to the San Diego Chargers, 51-10. The franchise would not see another AFL or NFL postseason game for another 13 years.
When the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, the Pats were placed in the AFC East Division, and the following year, moved to their current home in Foxborough, Mass. As a result of this move out of Boston, the team had proposed to change their name to the Bay State Patriots. However, the proposal was rejected by the NFL, and on March 12, 1971, the team officially announced that they would become known as the New England Patriots.
During the 1970’s, the team had some success, earning a wild card berth to the playoffs in 1976, and as AFC East champions in 1978. They lost in the first round of competition each time. In 1985, they made it to Super Bowl XX, but lost to the Chicago Bears 46-10. Following their Super Bowl loss, they returned to the playoffs in 1986 but lost in the first round. The team would not makes the playoffs again for eight more years. During this period, they changed ownership three times, from Billy Sullivan to Victor Kiam in 1988, to James Orthwein in 1992, and then to current owner Robert Kraft in 1994.
Although Orthwein’s period as owner was a brief one, he was the skipper behind major changes within the organization, first with the hiring of former Giants’ coach Bill Parcells in 1993, and then with a change to the look of the team’s uniforms, changing their primary colors from red and white to blue and silver, while introducing a new logo that is still used today. With Parcells at the helm, the Patriots saw action in playoffs, making it to Super Bowl XXXI, in which they lost to the Packers. After Parcells’ dismissal, his successor, Pete Carroll took the team to the playoffs twice, in 1997 and 1998, but was dismissed as head coach at the close of the 1999 season.
The Patriots’ current head coach is Bill Belichick, who was hired in 2000, and has been with the organization through their move to brand new Gillette Stadium, also found in Foxborough. In 2001, with new coach Bill Belichick and surprise star quarterback Tom Brady, the Patriots completed a miracle season, winning Super Bowl XXXVI after a 5-5 start. Under Belichick, the team has won three Super Bowls in four years, and finished the 2007 regular season with a perfect 16-0 record, becoming only the fifth team in league history to go undefeated in the regular season, and the only one since the league expanded its regular season schedule to 16 games. However, in this year, the Patriots were stunned by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, ending their run for a perfect 19-0 season. This 18-1 mark on the season makes the Pats only one of three teams to go 18-1, but the only team to lose the Super Bowl in those successful runs. Stay tuned tomorrow as we dissect what is on the docket for the Patriots with the NFL Draft around the corner!