Having been around since 1960, the Patriots are among the oldest teams in the NFL. In that half century, Pat Patriot and the team have certainly created many memorable moments, but there are a few little known stories worth noting.
Although you may have already known that the Patriots are going to win their fourth Super Bowl this Sunday, here are a few bits of trivia you’ve yet to learn:
1. The team was shortly called the Bay State Patriots. This had to change because of the unintended abbreviation, BS Patriots.
The Boston Patriots were the eighth team added to the AFL, keeping the original name until 1971. But owner Billy Sullivan became upset that Boston wasn’t allowing him to build a stadium in the downtown area, so he snubbed the city and moved to Foxboro. With the location change came a name change and the Patriots adopted the “Bay State Patriots” moniker. This didn’t go over well.
An AP story from 1971 entitled “Bay State or Boston? Even Patriots Unsure” explains:
The club’s board of directors voted a change from Boston to Bay State last week, recognizing the fact the team is scheduled to play home games this year in a 62,000-seat stadium under construction in Foxboro, about 20 miles south of Boston. The “Bay State” tag hasn’t proved too popular, and some Boston sports writers refuse to call the team by anything but “Patriots.”
And an article from Time points out that part of the hatred for the new name was because the abbreviation “B.S. Patriots” was obviously no good. The team name was quickly changed to the New England Patriots.
2. George R.R. Martin wrote the New England Patriots into Game of Thrones.
Unfortunately, they’re not given the best treatment. George R.R. Martin isn’t too fond of the team, saying to Sports Illustrated that the Patriots are the NFL’s Lannisters.
Talking on a Sports Illustrated podcast in 2013, Martin furthered this earlier claim describing Bill Belichick as “Evil Little Bill.” He said, “In some ways he might be worse than a Lannister. Maybe he’s a Greyjoy.”
In A Dance with Dragons there’s passage that has been determined to be about the Patriots 2007 undefeated season where they eventually lost the Super Bowl to the New York Giants. From the book:
The galley was also where the ship’s books were kept … the fourth and final volume of The Life of the Triarch Belicho, a famous Volantene patriot whose unbroken succession of conquests and triumphs ended rather abruptly when he was eaten by giants.
In the previously mentioned Sports Illustrated interview, Martin claimed “the Starks are heroes, so they would be the Giants.” You can read more about Martin’s NFL fandom on his blog, titled “Not a Blog”.
3. Bill Belichick once gave Larry Izzo a game ball for secretly going “number two” on the sidelines during a game.
In 2012, Wes Welker confirmed a rumor on ESPN’s “Highly Questionable” that Larry Izzo had gone “number two” during a game. Welker even progressed the story further claiming Izzo probably sees it as one of his greatest accomplishments:
Larry would be so mad at me if I said that this didn’t happen, because he takes ultimate pride in this whole deal. Of all the special teams tackles and Pro Bowls he’s made, I guarantee you that game ball is probably a more prized item for him than his Super Bowl rings.
Izzo was named special teams captain for the New England Patriots eight times.
4. Vladimir Putin apparently stole one of Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl rings, almost causing an international incident.
Vladimir Putin initially acquired the Super Bowl XXXIX ring during a meeting with various businessmen, including Robert Kraft, and at the time it was said to be a gift. However in 2013, as reported by the New York Post, Kraft gave a speech where he admitted that Putin had actually stolen the ring. Kraft said, “I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring.’ I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
The George W. Bush White House had called Kraft at the time to persuade him to not make an international incident out of the theft. Kraft explained in his speech, a White House representative told him, “It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present.” Kraft continued the story:
I really didn’t [want to]. I had an emotional tie to the ring, it has my name on it. I don’t want to see it on eBay. There was a pause on the other end of the line, and the voice repeated, “It would really be in the best interest if you meant to give the ring as a present.”
The Kremlin has denied the ring was stolen.
5. The iconic Pat Patriot was originally drawn in just 45 minutes.
Phil Bissell was working as a Boston Globe cartoonist when the Patriots first received their name. A Globe editor asked Bissell to illustrate a potential logo and in 45 minutes, Bissell had Pat Patriot. The team loved the drawing so much that they paid Bissell and took the logo as their own. Over the years slight variations have been made to Pat, such as the more fierce eyes that are recognizable today, but more or less the logo has survived since that first assignment.
In a profile with USA Today, Bissell said, “Pat is just a living legend. People just like Pat. They seem to know this guy is getting down to business. He’s going to give it all.”
In late 2014, Bissell published a book called PatsPa! about his cartoons over the years, focusing on his various drawings of Pat Patriot over the years for the team.
Image: New England Patriots official website
BONUS: Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth round as a fourth-string QB, but when he first met Robert Kraft this is what Brady said:
“I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.”
Giving a speech at Gillette Stadium in 2012, Robert Kraft told the story of the first time he met Tom Brady.
Brady was only 22, but, according to Kraft, his trademark confidence was already quite apparent:
I still have the image of Tom Brady coming down the old Foxboro stadium steps with that pizza box under his arm, a skinny beanpole, and when he introduced himself to me and said, “Hi Mr. Kraft,” he was about to say who he was, but I said, “I know who you are, you’re Tom Brady. You’re our sixth round draft choice.” And he looked me in the eye and said, “I’m the best decision this organization has ever made.” It looks like he could be right.
Now it’s time to take that confidence and do this again.
All images Getty unless otherwise noted.