History of The New England Patriots

History Of The New England Patriots

The History of the New England Patriots (NFL team) began when Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final franchise of the developing American Football League (AFL) on November 16, 1959. The following winter, locals were allowed to submit ideas for the Boston football team's official name. The most popular choice — and the one that Sullivan selected — was "Boston Patriots" (reflecting Boston's role in early American history). Immediately thereafter, artist Phil Bissell developed the "Pat Patriot" logo.

The Patriots' time in the AFL saw them without a regular home stadium. Nickerson Field, Harvard Stadium, Fenway Park, and Alumni Stadium, all in or near Boston, served as home fields during their time in the American Football League. Early Patriots stars included defensive tackles Jim Lee "Earthquake" Hunt and Houston Antwine; quarterback Vito "Babe" Parilli; and flanker-placekicker Gino "The Duke" Cappelletti. Hunt, Parilli and Cappelletti played every year of the existence of the AFL, with Hunt and Cappelletti spending all ten years with the Patriots. Cappelletti was the all-time leading scorer in the AFL. Later the Patriots were joined by such stars as defensive end Larry Eisenhauer, fullback Jim Nance, and middle linebacker and future Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti. Cappelletti and Nance were AFL Most Valuable Players, Cappelletti in 1964 and Nance in 1966. Buoniconti and Antwine were later named to the American Football League All-Time Team.

The Boston Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills in an AFL Eastern Division playoff game in 1963, and played in the 1963 AFL championship game, losing to the San Diego Chargers 51–10. Although they would not appear again in an AFL or NFL post-season game for another 13 years, in the AFL, the Patriots often challenged the dominant Bills for the Eastern Division title.

When the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, the Patriots were placed in the AFC East division, where they still play today. The following year, the Patriots moved to a new stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, which would serve as their home for 30 years; the team also changed their name to the New England Patriots to reflect the location change, as well as its following throughout the region as its only NFL team (though both New York City teams have substantial followings in parts of Connecticut as well). During the 1970s, the Patriots had some success, earning a berth to the playoffs in 1976—as a wild card-berth—and in 1978—as AFC East champions. They would lose both games. In 1985, they returned to the playoffs, and made it all the way to Super Bowl XX, which they 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 make the playoffs again for eight more years. They changed ownership several times in that period, being purchased from the Sullivan family first by Victor Kiam in 1988, who sold the team to James Orthwein in 1992. Orthwein intended to move the team to his native St. Louis, Missouri, but sold the team two years later to current owner, local businessman Robert Kraft in 1994.

Though Orthwein's period as owner was short and controversial, he did oversee major changes to the team. Former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells was hired in 1993, and the drastic changes were made the same year to the Patriots uniforms, changing their primary colors from their traditional red and white to blue and silver, and introducing a new logo. Parcells would bring the Patriots to two playoff appearances, including Super Bowl XXXI, which they lost to the Green Bay Packers by a score of 35–21. Pete Carroll, Parcells' successor, would also take the team to the playoffs twice.

Bill Belichick, current head coach, was hired in 2000, and a new home field, Gillette Stadium was opened in 2002. Under Belichick, the team won three Super Bowls in four years, and finished the 2007 regular season with a perfect 16–0 record, becoming only the fourth team in league history to go undefeated, and the only one since the league expanded its regular season schedule to 16 games. The Patriots have made the playoffs in 9 of the 12 seasons that Belichick has been coach, missing them only in 2000 (his first season), 2002, and 2008.

Read more about History Of The New England PatriotsEarlier NFL Experience, 1960–69: AFL Beginnings, 1973–78: Fairbanks Era, 1979–84: Coaching Changes, 1985: First Super Bowl Appearance, 1986–1992: Ownership Changes

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