New England Patriots

Wed, 17 Sep 2008 19:40

The history of the New England Patriots

About the NFL team New England Patriots.

So far, the New England Patriots have been making football history, with their record three Super Bowl wins in four years between 2001 and 2005. They are only the second team to do so. The team is also one of the very few teams to achieve two of the longest winning streaks in NFL history: an 18-game streak back in 2003 to 2004 and a 19-game streak in the 2007 season. They are the current defending champion in the American Football Conference, after winning the championship game in 2007.

Commonly referred to as “Pats” by fans and sports writers, the New England Patriots come from the Greater Boston area and play their games at Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Pats are part of the American Football Conference East Division. They used to be known as the Boston Patriots, up until moving to their Foxborough home in 1971.

The Wandering Team

Bill Sullivan, a Boston businessman, was given the last franchise of the then new American Football League in November 16, 1959. He then selected the name Boston Patriots, after a deluge of suggestions from the local denizens.

At the start, a constant problem of the team was about not having a home stadium. They scuttled between Nickerson Field, Harvard Stadium, Fenway Park and the Alumni Stadium. It was only in 1971 when they finally settled in Foxborough, in a new stadium that was to be their home to this day.

In between all the moving, the Pats managed to play in one AFL championship (1963 season), where they lost to the San Diego Chargers. The team would not make any AFL championship until thirteen years after.

The 1960s

During the second season in 1961, the Patriots lost three out of their five first games. This got Head Coach Lou Saban fired. Mike Holovak was then hired to replace him. And true enough, the Pats won the rest of the season except for one game. They finished 2nd overall. This feat was repeated in 1962 during Holovak’s first full season, when the team won and placed 2nd again.

1963 was the Patriot’s first season at Fenway Park. This was also the year they faced the Buffalo Bills for the division playoffs. They won and went off to play the championship game in San Diego. The Pats experienced a stunning loss against the Chargers 51-10. by 1968, the team was struggling again, placing fourth with just four wins and ten losses. Holovak was fired as coach, with Clive Rush replacing him. The coach change, however, did little to change game play. In 1969, the Patriots lost their first seven games for another four-wins ten-loss season.

The 1970s

The Patriots experienced minor successes during this decade. Apart from earning a new and permanent home in Foxborough, they also earned a wild-card berth in the 1976 playoffs. Again in 1978, they won the AFC East finals but lost in the championship.

The 70s was another decade when the team saw drastic changes in its coaching lineup. In 1973, Chuck Fairbanks was brought in from the University of Oklahoma to enliven the lagging team. It was also in the same year when draft John Hannah joined the team’s ailing offensive line. The Pats eventually finished the season with a better 5-9 record.

Fairbanks imposed the defensive tactic used while in Oklahoma by 1974. This seemed to work, as the team was able to win its first five games. The Pats struggled with the season’s second half though, finishing with a 7-7 record.

Through all this, a coaching turmoil brewed. Fairbanks felt the Sullivan family were encroaching themselves, which soon resulted in an abrupt transfer to the University of Colorado. This resulted in a weak season for the team, as assistant coaches Ron Erhardt and Hank Bullough shared coaching duties. Fairbanks was brought back in through a series of legal encounters. This did little to improve team performance. By 1979, the University of Colorado agreed to pay the Patriots for its coach’s early contract termination. Erhardt took over as head coach.

The 1980s

The Pats were favored to win the AFC east playoffs with a 4-0 preseason record. But then, they ended up losing their first four games, toward a 2-14 season record. This cost Erhardt his coaching job.

Ron Meyer took over Erhardt's role in 1982, bringing his SMU program and straightforward approach into the ailing team. The 1984 season saw number one draft pick Irving Fryar joining the team. Tony Eason also replaced Steve Grogan as quarterback and let the team to a 38-23 win. However, Meyer’s tactics were beginning to be seen as old. He was soon replaced by Hall of Famer Raymond Berry. The first season with Berry brought a 9-7 record.

In 1985, the Pats advanced into Super Bowl XX as Steve Grogan and Tony Eason shared quarterback duties to rally the team in the top divisional spot. The team was the Super Bowl underdogs, ending up losing to a 46-point onslaught after an initial 3-0 lead. The final score was a disappointing 46-10, in favor of the Chicago Bears.

In 1989, the team experienced its first losing season since 1981, with the loss of important defensive starters Andre Tippett, Ronnie Lippett, and Garin Veris to injuries. The Pats ended the season with three straight losses. This resulted in the replacement of Berry with Rod Rust.

Ownership of the team franchise shifted from the Sullivan family to Victor Kiam in 1988, and then to James Orthwein in 1992. After two years, Orthwein sold the team to its current owner, Robert Kraft.

The 1990s and Today

The decade started with the scandalous Lisa Olsen sexual harassment investigations, which reflected in the team’s game. During this time, the Pats experienced their worst playing record with 1-15. The team was later fined $50,000 by NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. Liale players were also penalized: Zeke Mowatt with $12,500, Michael Timpson with $5,000, and Robert Perryman with $5,000. This also affected the whole Patriots organization - from their general manager to their head coach.

In 1993, former New York Giants coach Bill Parcells took over. Likewise, the team underwent a makeover with new uniforms and a new logo. Under Parcells, the team would make the Super Bowl XXXI play-offs. Parcells was later succeeded by Pete Carroll, who also took the team to the playoffs twice.

By 2000, the team got its current coach, Bill Belichick. It also moved to its new home at the Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002. Under their new coach, the Pats headed for the Super Bowl three times within four years. They also logged their first 16-0 perfect season record, to become only the fifth team to do so. It was between 2001 and 2005 when the Patriots would win a historic three Super Bowls within four years.

For 2007’s Super Bowl XLII, the Patriots one again faced the New York Giants. The Pats had already beaten the Giants 16-0 in the past. The team got an initial 7-3 lead, courtesy of endzone Laurence Maroney. However, the Giants would catch up and take the lead at a little more than eleven minutes to go. The Pats retook the lead at 14-10 with 2:42 left, but later gave in to a 17-14 score as two of Tom Brady’s prayers were left unanswered.