Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that the New England Patriots have forged a football dynasty of historic proportions. This team just clinched its record-breaking tenth Super Bowl berth and its eighth in the past 17 years. Here’s some fun trivia worth memorizing before they take on Philly (again) on Super Bowl Sunday.
1. THEY WEREN'T THE FIRST PRO FOOTBALL TEAM TO REPRESENT BOSTON.
Massachusetts began flirting with pro football long before the New England Patriots came along. The Boston Bulldogs were created and dismantled in 1929. The Boston Redskins (originally the Braves) came next in 1932, but, after five years, they relocated to Washington, D.C.
2. THEY WERE FOUNDED AS THE "BOSTON PATRIOTS."
3. THEY WON THE AFL'S VERY FIRST PRE-SEASON GAME.
On July 30, 1960, the Patriots won the upstart American Football League’s very first pre-season game by toppling the Buffalo Bills 28-7.
4. A TRI-CORNER HAT USED TO ADORN THEIR HELMETS.
Modern Patriots may wear that star-spangled “Flying Elvis” logo, but their forebears spent the 1960 season rocking a much simpler helmet design—one which consisted of a tri-corner hat sitting atop each player’s number.
5. THEY MOVED A LOT DURING THE 1960S.
Between 1960 and 1971, the Patriots changed venues four times. Nickerson Field, Fenway Park, Harvard Stadium, and Boston College’s Alumni Stadium all took turns hosting the team during that stretch.
6. IN 1970, A FIRE BROKE OUT IN THE STANDS.
In 1970, the Patriots's final game at Alumni Stadium was interrupted when a popcorn machine beneath the bleachers caught fire, scattering a large section of the crowd. "Fortunately, nobody was hurt," said radio announcer Gil Santos, "and it wasn't a huge section of seats that were burned. After the fire was out, everybody found a seat, and the game continued. Popcorn sales, of course, went down."
7. THEY WERE GOING TO BE CALLED THE BAY STATE PATRIOTS, BUT THERE WAS A SLIGHT PROBLEM.
Upon leaving for Foxborough, Massachusetts in 1971, the team was set to be rechristened “The Bay State Patriots.” The name was rejected when people pointed out the abbreviation would be “The B.S. Patriots.”
8. IN THE EARLY YEARS, THEIR STADIUM HAD SOME TOILET PROBLEMS.
Schaefer Stadium (a.k.a. Foxboro Stadium) wasn’t exactly Buckingham Palace. In 1971, the Pats's longtime residence just barely passed a mandatory “flush-off” test—wherein health inspectors flushed every single on-property toilet simultaneously. The test was ordered after hasty repairs were made when it was discovered that the plumbing was insufficiently prepared.
9. A SNOW PLOW OPERATOR BECAME A SPORTS HERO IN 1982.
On a harsh, wintry day in 1982, snowplow operator Mark Henderson became a New England folk hero when he cleared a patch of field for Patriots kicker John Smith, whose late field goal slew the visiting Miami Dolphins. Incidentally, at the time, Henderson was there on work release from prison.
10. THE 1985 PATRIOTS WERE IMPROBABLE AFC CHAMPS.
The franchise secured its first-ever Super Bowl appearance in the 1985 NFL playoffs. New England had squeaked into the post-season as an 11-5 wild card squad. Then, the Pats became the first team in league history to reach the Super Bowl by winning three playoff games on the road. Unfortunately, their opponents in Super Bowl XX were Mike Ditka’s shufflin’ Chicago Bears, who crushed the Pats 46-10.
11. THEY ALMOST MOVED TO ST. LOUIS.
When Missouri native James Orthwein bought the Pats in 1992, he had a single goal in mind: shipping them off to St. Louis. However, at the time, Foxboro Stadium was owned by Robert Kraft, who effectively nixed the idea and purchased Orthwein’s franchise two years later.
12. THEY ALMOST GOT SHIPPED OFF TO CONNECTICUT, TOO.
New England escaped relocation again in 1998. Businessmen from Hartford, Connecticut, attempted to lure Kraft's Pats out of Massachusetts by offering a brand-new, publicly financed stadium. This blockbuster deal fell through when Kraft managed to secure $72 million from the Bay State, with which he eventually constructed Gillette Stadium—the squad's current home.
13. TOM BRADY'S COLLEGE CAREER DIDN'T PORTEND HIS SUPERSTAR STATUS.
He may be a future Hall of Famer, but during his collegiate days, nobody would’ve mistaken Patriots QB Tom Brady for a big-shot. At one point, Brady was the seventh quarterback on the University of Michigan’s depth chart.
14. BRADY COULD HAVE PLAYED PRO BASEBALL INSTEAD.
Speaking of Brady: the Montreal Expos drafted him as a catcher in 1995. (He didn't play.)
15. THEY'VE GOT THE LONGEST WINNING STREAK IN PRO FOOTBALL HISTORY.
The franchise claimed 21-straight regular and postseason wins from 2003-2004, an NFL record.
16. IT TOOK NEARLY 30 MINUTES FOR EITHER TEAM TO SCORE IN SUPER BOWL XXXVIII.
Though the Pats eventually prevailed over Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII, viewers had to wait 26 minutes and 55 seconds before either team scored. However, the teams scored 37 combined points in the fourth quarter, the most ever in a single quarter of a Super Bowl.
17. NEW ENGLAND SET ALL KINDS OF RECORDS IN THE 2017 SUPER BOWL.
After falling behind 28-3, the Pats scored 25 points to send the game into overtime. This is notable for three reasons: For starters, it was (numerically) the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. Also, no previous Super Bowl had ever gone into overtime. And finally, by beating the Falcons in OT, Brady earned his fifth Super Bowl championship—meaning he now has more of these than any other starting quarterback in league history.
18. VLADIMIR PUTIN MIGHT HAVE ONE OF ROBERT KRAFT'S CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS.
Vladimir Putin: jewelry thief? Kraft claims that, while visiting Russia, he had to bid one of his championship rings “dasvidanya.” Allegedly, President Putin had asked to hold it, remarking “I could kill someone with this ring.” Kraft complied, at which point the statesman pocketed the keepsake and left. Kraft later said it was a gift. Putin curiously said he has no memory of the event. “You know, I do not remember either Mr. Kraft or the ring," he told AFP. "They handed out some sorts of souvenirs."
19. GAME OF THRONES AUTHOR GEORGE R.R. MARTIN HAS COMPARED THEM TO ONE OF WESTEROS'S GREAT HOUSE.
The novelist and Giants/Jets fan says that, in his mind, the Patriots are the NFL’s Lannisters.
20. BILL BELICHICK BOUGHT A NEW BOAT AFTER WINNING SUPER BOWL XLIX.
Head coach Bill Belichick is an avid fisherman. He once owned a 24-foot power boat called V Rings. The name was a reference to the two Super Bowls he’d won as a defensive coordinator with the Giants and the first three he won with the Pats. In 2015, he got himself a new vessel after New England beat Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. What’d he call it? VI Rings. Unconfirmed reports claim that Belichick has since rechristened the newer boat VII Rings to acknowledge his victory in Super Bowl LI in 2017. Shortly thereafter, Belichick donated the original V Rings boat to “Sail Newport,” a Rhode Island nonprofit. Will he ever get to name one of his nautical vehicles VIII Rings? Well, if things go his way on Sunday, the man just might.
Additional Sources: Then Belichick Said to Brady…: The Greatest New England Patriots Stories Ever Told, by Jim Donaldson
The Patriot Way: The History of the New England Patriots