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The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional American football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxboroughmarker, Massachusettsmarker at Gillette Stadiummarker. The team is part of the East Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team changed its name from the original Boston Patriots after relocating to Foxborough in 1971, although Foxborough is a suburb of Boston, away.

An original member of the American Football League (AFL), the Patriots joined the NFL in the 1970 merger of those leagues. The team advanced to the playoffs four times before appearing in Super Bowl XX in January 1986, losing to the Chicago Bears. The team also appeared in Super Bowl XXXI in January 1997, losing to the Green Bay Packers.

Between 2001 and 2005, the Patriots became the second team in NFL history (after the Dallas Cowboys) to win three Super Bowls in four years (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX), and the eighth to win consecutive Super Bowls. The Patriots, however, were defeated by the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, after winning the first 18 games of their 2007 season. Under quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have also compiled the two longest winning streak in NFL history, an 18-game streak in 2003-2004, and a 21-game streak in 2006-2008 (the NFL excludes playoff games from their records).

Franchise history

"Pat Patriot" logo, used through 1992
On November 16, 1959, Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final franchise of the developing American Football League (AFL). 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". Immediately thereafter, Boston Globe artist Phil Bissell developed the "Pat Patriot" logo.

The Patriots' time in the AFL saw them struggle most years as they never had a regular home stadium. Nickerson Fieldmarker, Harvard Stadiummarker, Fenway Parkmarker, and Alumni Stadiummarker all served as home fields during their time in the American Football League. They did play in one AFL championship game, following the 1963 season. They lost to the San Diego Chargers 51–10. They would not appear again in an AFL or NFL post-season game for another 13 years.

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 stadiummarker in Foxborough, Massachusettsmarker, which would serve as their home for 30 years. As a result of the move, they would change their name from the Boston Patriots to the New England Patriots. During the 1970s, the Patriots had some success, earning a berth to the playoffs in 1976—as a wild card-team—and in 1978—as AFC East champions. They lost in the first round both times. 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 three times, 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, Missourimarker, but sold the team two years later to current owner 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's successor, would also take the team to the playoffs twice.
The Patriots current coach Bill Belichick was hired in 2000, and a new home field, Gillette Stadiummarker 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 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. After advancing to Super Bowl XLII, the team's fourth Super Bowl in seven years, the Patriots were defeated by the Giants to end their bid for a 19–0 season. With the loss, the Patriots ended the year at 18–1, becoming only one of three teams to go 18–1 along with the 1984 San Francisco 49ers and the 1985 Chicago Bears. Those teams, however, won the Super Bowl.

Season-by-season records


The Patriots have maintained a rivalry with the New York Jets, who have also been members of the AFC East since its inception in 1970. Prior to that, both teams competed in the American Football League since both teams' foundings in 1960. The rivalry between the Jets and Patriots has escalated since 1996, when Patriots head coach Bill Parcells left the Patriots under controversy to become the head coach of the Jets. Four years later, Parcells' assistant, Bill Belichick, resigned the day he was named the Jets' head coach to become the head coach of the Patriots. Six years after that, Eric Mangini, an assistant under Belichick, became the head coach of the Jets.

Meanwhile, the rise of quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the early 2000s led to an increased rivalry between Manning's Indianapolis Colts and Brady's Patriots. The teams met three times in four years (2003, 2004, 2006) in the playoffs, with the winner going on to win that season's Super Bowl each time.


Under head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have employed specific on-field and off-field strategies. On the field, the Patriots have typically utilized an "Erhardt-Perkins" offense and a "Fairbanks-Bullough" 3-4 defense, referred to commonly as a 2-gap 3-4 defensive system. Their philosophy in making personnel decisions and in game planning has focused on the "team" concept, stressing preparation, strong work ethic, versatility, and lack of individual ego. This approach, which led to three Super Bowl victories under Belichick, was analyzed in the 2004 book Patriot Reign.

When owner Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994, he did so for $175 million. Since then, the Patriots have sold out every home game in both Foxboro Stadiummarker and Gillette Stadiummarker. By 2009, the value of the franchise had increased by over $1 billion, to a Forbes Magazine estimated value of $1.361 billion, third highest in the NFL.


Since 2002, the Patriots' home stadium has been Gillette Stadiummarker, a $350 million facility privately financed by Kraft. It houses all administrative offices for the team and its owning entity, The Kraft Group, as well as the Kraft-owned Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution. The field, which was originally natural grass, was replaced with a FieldTurf surface during the 2006 season. The area around the stadium was developed, beginning in 2007, into a $375 million "lifestyle and entertainment center" called Patriot Placemarker.

Prior to 2002, the Patriots played in Foxboro Stadiummarker dating back to 1971, the team's first year in the NFL. During the team's days in the American Football League, the Boston Patriots were hosted by a number of fields in or around Boston.

Notable players

Current roster

Hall of Famers and retired numbers

The New England Patriots feature 14 former players and one contributor in their team hall of fame, established in 1991. A committee of media and staff selected 11 players for enshrinement between 1991 and 2001, before a six-year span of no selections. In 2007, in advance of the 2008 opening of the Hall at Patriot Placemarker, the Patriots introduced a new nomination committee to select three candidates, with the winner of an internet fan vote being enshrined in the hall of fame. Former owner Billy Sullivan was inducted by owner Robert Kraft in March 2009 as a contributor.

Additionally, four former Patriots players have been enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Famemarker. The Patriots have officially retired seven uniform numbers.

New England Patriots Hall of Fame
Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected
73 John Hannah G 1973-1985 1991 (Pro: 1991) 40 Mike Haynes CB 1976-1982 1994 (Pro: 1997)
85 Nick Buoniconti LB 1962-1968 1992 (Pro: 2001) 14 Steve Grogan QB 1975-1990 1995
20 Gino Cappelletti WR-K 1960-1970 1992 56 Andre Tippett LB 1982-1993 1999 (Pro: 2008)
89 Bob Dee DL 1960-1967 1993 78 Bruce Armstrong T 1987-2000 2001
79 Jim Lee Hunt DL 1960-1971 1993 86 Stanley Morgan WR 1977-1989 2007
57 Steve Nelson LB 1974-1987 1993 87 Ben Coates TE 1991-1999 2008
15 Babe Parilli QB 1961-1967 1993 35 Jim Nance FB 1965-1971 2009
Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected Number Name Positions Seasons Year elected
-- Billy Sullivan Owner & founder 1960-1988 2009
Also enshrined in Pro Football Hall of Fame
Uniform number officially retired by team

All-decade teams

1960s (AFL)

In November 1971, fans voted on a 10-year Patriots anniversary team, which coincided with the team's 10 years in the then-defunct American Football League: Additional selections for returner, special teamer, and coach were added in 2009:

1970s, 1980s, 1990s

In March 2009, as part of the Patriots' 50th anniversary, a group of local media and other team figures selected all-decade teams for the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s:

Anniversary teams

35th anniversary (1994)

In 1994, a group of local media selected a 35th anniversary team:

50th anniversary (2009)

In 2009, the Patriots Hall of Fame selection committee selected a 50th anniversary team:

All-time first-round draft picks


Head coaches

Current staff

Cheerleaders and mascot

The Patriots Cheerleaders performing a routine in 2007
The Patriots NFL Cheerleaders are simply known as The Patriots Cheerleaders. In 2005, cheerleader Kristin Gauvin won Miss Massachusetts, in part from her local commitment with the Patriots.

The Patriots' mascot is Pat Patriot, a revolutionary minuteman wearing a Patriots home jersey.

During each game, about 10 men dressed as minutemen line the back of each end zone. When the Patriots score a touchdown or field goal, the militia behind the opposite end zone fire a round of blanks from flintlock muskets. After the point-after-touchdown (PAT) attempt, the men fire their guns to Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture. ESPN named this one of the top ten celebrations in the league in 2007.

Radio and television

The Patriots' flagship radio station is WBZ-FMmarker 98.5 FM, owned by CBS Radio. The larger radio network is called the New England Patriots Radio Network, whose 37 affiliate stations span 7 states. Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti are the longtime announcing team.

Any preseason games not on national television are shown on CBS affiliate WBZ-TVmarker. These games were broadcast on ABC affiliate WCVB-TVmarker from 1995 until the change to WBZ in 2009. Don Criqui has been the play-by-play announcer the last several years, with Randy Cross as a color commentator and Mike Lynch as a sideline reporter. Lynch was replaced by WBZ reporter Steve Burton in 2009.

Notes and references

  1. Records: Games Won
  2. Article by Bill Plaschke on Kevin Loh's design of the new Patriots' logo. LATIMES.COM. Accessed January 20, 2008.
  3. It's a Celebration: Best NFL Touchdown Celebrations, Josh Pahigian, 12/3/07

See also

Further reading

External links

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