The New England Patriots have become a dynasty, though it didn’t begin that way. Love them or hate them, the Patriots have captured this country’s attention like no other franchise.
The history of the Patriots began when Boston business executive William “Billy” Sullivan and Sullivan Brother Printers secured an American Football League (AFL) franchise in 1959.
First, there were thousands of ideas for the Boston football team’s official name. The nickname “Boston Patriots” was selected in keeping with the New England heritage. “Patriots” as a nickname had been suggested by 74 fans.
The “Pat Patriot” logo was immediately developed by artist Phil Bissell. The logo was used as the primary logo from 1960 through 1992. Pat Patriot was depicted as a soldier of the American Revolution in a tricorne hat and a Continental Army uniform. In 1993, Pat Patriot was replaced by the current logo which is known as “Flying Elvis”.
Early Patriots stars included defensive tackles Jim Lee “Earthquake” Hunt and Houston Antwine, quarterback Vito “Babe” Parilli, and franker-placekicker Gino “The Duke” Cappelletti. 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.
In 1971, two significant things happened to the team. It changed its name to New England Patriots and got a new 60,764-seat stadium in Foxboro.
During the 1970s, the Patriots has some success. They returned to the playoffs in 1985. 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 8 more years.
During that period, “Patriots” ownership has changed often, from Sullivan to Victor K. Kiam II in 1988, to James B. Orthwein in 1992 and finally to Robert Kraft in 1994.
In 1996, there was a stroke of luck for the Patriots. They won the AFC Championship in 1996 and earned a trip to their second Super Bowl. Then in 2001, the Patriots completed a miracle season, winning Super Bowl XXXVI after a 5-5 start.