January 27, 2017
By Justin Lasher
The sport of football is filled with tradition and history. Each team has their own set of traditions and history. The New England Patriots are no different. Believe it or not, New England’s history does predate 2001 and the Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, era. Much like the region the Patriots represent, the team is filled with rich history and a tradition that may be the best in football.
The Patriots were birthed on November 16, 1959, when they were awarded the final franchise spot in the new American Football League. The first ownership was a group of local businessmen, led by Billy Sullivan Jr. They were first known as the Boston Patriots (1960-1970), then giving way to their current name, New England Patriots (1971-present).
In their almost 60 years of existence, the Patriots have had many years of success. In 868 games played as a franchise, the Patriots have gone 476-383-9 for a .548 winning percentage. The Patriots have made 9 Super Bowl appearances, winning four of them (all during the Belichick/Brady era). They have had the fortune of having many great players don the Patriots jersey. The Patriots have retired seven numbers over the years. Guys lucky enough to have their numbers retired are Gino Cappelletti (20), Mike Haynes (40), Steve Nelson (57), John Hannah (73), Bruce Armstrong (78), Jim Lee Hunt (79), and Bob Dee (89).
Not surprisingly, when glancing at the all-time Patriots leaders, most are from the current era of Patriots football. Tom Brady holds Patriots records for all-time passing leader. Stephen Gostkowski is the all-time leader in scoring. The Patriots all-time winningest coach is none other than Bill Belichick. Rounding out the all-time leader board are Sam Cunningham (all-time leading rusher) and Stanley Morgan (all-time receiving leader).
In 1991, the Patriots came up with a way to honor and preserve their team history. They created a team Hall of Fame. Guys lucky enough to have been inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame are listed below.
Billy Sullivan – as a contributor Stanley Morgan – wide receiver
John Hannah – offensive lineman Ben Coates – tight end
Nick Buoniconti – linebacker Jim Nance – fullback
Gino Cappelletti – WR/Kicker Sam Cunningham – running back
Bob Dee – defensive lineman Jon Morris – offensive line
Jim Lee Hunt – defensive tackle Drew Bledsoe – quarterback
Steve Nelson – linebacker Troy Brown – ST/WR/DB
Vito “Babe” Parilli – quarterback Tedy Bruschi – linebacker
Mike Haynes – cornerback Ty Law – cornerback
Steve Grogan – quarterback Houston Antwine –
Andre Tippett – linebacker Willie McGinest – DE/linebacker
Bruce Armstrong – tackle Kevin Faulk – running back
When researching for this article, I will be honest, I was not aware of the Patriots tradition after scoring. I now firmly believe their tradition may be the best tradition in all of football, even above the Lambeau Leap. I can’t explain or outline the tradition any better than Josh Pahigian did in his ESPN article in 2007. You can find the full article here, http://www.espn.com/travel/news/story?id=3139628.
[Whenever the Patriots score, the 20 or so men in Revolutionary War garb behind the end zones fire a salute into the air with flintlock muskets. As the blank rounds reverberate and black smoke wafts into the air, the crowd goes wild.
The End Zone Militia is a nod to the original New England “patriots” of the 1770s. At a moment’s notice, these everyday citizens would grab their muskets and cartridges and head off to fight the Brits wearing whatever clothes they had on, often including hats like the one worn by the character depicted in the old Patriots logo.
“We have to be considered part of the Patriots’ home-field advantage,” said End Zone Militia captain Geoff Campbell. “The players know we’re there, and the fans, the cheerleaders and so does the opposition.
“One of the best things that happens after a Patriots score is the smoke from the muskets drifting across the visitor’s bench. Powder smoke tends to be smelly. Think rotten eggs.”]
Bill Belichick is the king of one liners, sarcasm, and dry sense of humor. That is why I would be remorse if I left out Belichick’s take on tradition. In a USA Today article, Belichick, after being asked about tradition and superstition, is quoted as saying, “Try to coach and play good. It goes a long way.” I would say that Belichick has created a tradition of playing good and winning in New England for years to come.