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Was Chuck Fairbanks at Fault or Were the Sullivans?

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by shmessy, Dec 2, 2012.

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  1. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Moved this from another thread to avoid a further hijacking. Seems to be a decent convo regarding a seminal event in Patriots history. With any franchise history, there are forks in the road. What if Dreith made the right call???? What if there was no Tuck Rule? What if Myra Kraft won the argument and convinced Bob not to waste a record sum on the worst franchise in the NFL.

    Here is one:

    1978. I remember how important and historic that first home playoff game New England history was. How it was going to put our franchise on the map.

    I remember how so many of us felt vindicated for following such a minor league organization that had finally reached the point that the league had to take them seriously. Especially, for my dad who met Billy Sullivan at the team's inception and proudly held 5 shares of the team that Billy had sold to the public for something like $25 apiece in the 60's. I had only been a fan for 5 years. He had been a fan since the announcement in '59 and had ven hated the Giants for years before that for being the only team televised in the New England region. Ask people of that generation and you'll find a curiously stronger hatred of the Giants than even the kids of today who watched the two SB losses to them. Those people still can't stand Pat Summerall or Frank Gifford.

    If the HEAD COACH of that team had his head anywhere else but that playoff game the week before, it was inexcusable, Mike. Inexcusable.

    The Sullivans WERE crap owners - - that era's Woody Johnson. However, Fairbanks was here since 1973. They didn't become crap owners the week before the Houston game. He knew the deal for YEARS. He bailed - - whether it was secretly or publicly, he bailed when they were on the doorstep to something great.

    And so the game was a disaster. The heavily favored Patriots ran into a wall and were down 21-0 before they knew what hit them. It was the second time that week that they didn't know what hit them. Their talent allowed them to fight back a little, but the soul was just not in it.

    Sorry, Chuck Fairbanks may be a very nice man, and I wish him and his family happiness in whatever they do, but forgiveness for accepting another job (a COLLEGE one - - take that Patriots!) when he did is not coming from me. Not that he needs my forgiveness!
     
  2. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    Adding this from the other thread, shmessy as I think you are out of bounds here calling the Sullivans CRAP as this statement oozes of entitlment. Woody Johnson couldn't hold Billy Sullivan's jockstrap.

    I'd agree that Billy, Chuck and Pat wern't exactly the triumvirate of fooball genius, were sometimes irrational and not exactly rich owners that could cover up their mistakes but they were self-made men (Billy because he was the dad), founded the region's 1st NFL franchise, got them sucessful out of the gate, built a stadium, hired good people (most of the time) and were owners during the team's 1st SB appearance (should have been two if you count 1976).

    Is he Kraft? Not even close but he blows a silver-spooned, asleep-at-the wheel Woody Johnson out of the water.

    They were both at fault. I'm not going to document all the reasons for my statement but Fairbanks recruiting players while at NE was horrible..just like Tuna talking to the Jets.

    However, what the Sullivans did to escalate the issue and cause utter chaos for the 1st home playoff game in franchise history was childish, short-sighted and completely unncessary.

    I know Fairbanks felt screwed over by the Sullivans but both sides could have acted a bit more professional for the sake of the fanbase. Dark times for sure.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  3. lurker1965

    lurker1965 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    No Jersey Selected

    As an 11 year old, all I can remember is thinking "what the...?"
     
  4. Joker

    Joker PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Fairbanks sure made a great decision ....exactly WHAT did he do afterwards?...screw him

    The Sullivans ran the Pats like a car dealership.The franchise looked like a clown show at the circus that playoff game.

    I was a Giants fan when I was a kid. I rooted for both teams until the merger. I went to many Pats games until the merger and then made almost every game for decades. We had some squads that if BB were coaching they would have went back to back championships. We had the equivalent of KIA auto salesmen coaching against Cadillac dealers.

    edit: as comical as the Sullivans could be at times, as owners, they were head and shoulders above a cretin like Woody Johnson....they were fans before they became owners.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  5. reflexblue

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    [​IMG]
     
  6. 1960Pats

    1960Pats Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job

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    If Ben Dreith doesn't steal that game in 1976 we would have played the Steelers in the AFCC with both Rocky Blier and Franco Harris out of the game. They both got hurt in the 1:00 game the day we "lost" to the Raiders. We then would have gone on and crushed a crappy Vikings team in the SB, just as the Raiders did.

    As for Fairbanks vs Sullivan, I'll go with Sully every time.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  7. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    NEvs Oak WAS the AFCCG. The pats would have played Minnes and kicked their ass winning the SB.
     
  8. shmessy

    shmessy Maude Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I'm sure you're not saying that literally, but figuratively - - however, some may take that literally.

    The Patriots never won an NFL playoff game until the 1980's.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  9. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    figatively....
     
  10. Rob0729

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    I kinda look at it as two wrongs.

    The Sullivans did a lot of things that were questionable moves to peiss off Fairbanks (they are documented in the other thread and since it was before my time, I don't know the whole situation). They pretty much forced a divorce.

    That said, Fairbanks owed it to his players and staff to see through the season. Whether or not the Sullivans wronged Fairbanks so bad that he decided to screw them over, it is inexcusable for a head coach to abandon his team during the season or playoffs.

    The funny thing is that some of the people who are defending Fairbanks for leaving are people who kill Parcells for doing a similar thing during Super Bowl week in 1997.
     
  11. upstater1

    upstater1 Pro Bowl Player

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    No matter how bad the owners, you don't abandon your team.

    I once had a job under a new psychopathic manager at a restaurant during the holidays. Because of where the store was located, this was the busiest time of year. Hustling from start to finish. There were people there working that absolutely needed the job, and I was the short order cook (but everything there was short order), and I knew that if I pulled a Fairbanks, a lot of the other workers would suffer. I also knew that if I gave the manager my notice, he would flip and become even more unhinged than he already was. So I stuck it out a month under ridiculous working conditions. But I only did it for the other coworkers.
     
  12. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    It is interesting how history repeated itself almost spot-on. Both coaches felt undercut by the owner and both coaches were underhanded during a time that was critical to the franchise's legacy.

    In both situations, both owners were very passionate in their stewardship by protecting the franchise, their own egos and were very public in how they would deal with the "what ifs".

    Incredible. Only the Patriots....
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  13. patfanken

    patfanken Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I am of that era. and like some others here I had a relative who invested in the original Patriot stock offering. The Sullivans started to show show their true colors when the literally stole the team from the share holders for pennies on the dollar in the 60's. They continued to mismanage the team right through the 70's. They missed opportunity after opportunity to build in Boston and squandered many more opportunities to sell the team to owners with enough money to run it properly.

    IIRC - Fairbanks did the best he could with the very limited resources the Sullivans offered him. He was a great coach. However when the opportunity came to run a good (at the time) college program he would have insane not to take it. More money, better facilities, more professional management support.

    But here's the way I recall it. Faribanks told the Sullivans that he was going to leave at the end of the season and take the Colorado job. But he would stay for the playoffs. The Sullivans like the hotheaded idiots that they were, threw him out of the facilities and didn't let him say good by to his team.....and then had their drinking buddies in the press spin it like he left the team in a lurch.

    Compared to the Sullivan's Woody Johnson is a Bob Kraft Clone. They were THAT bad. It still pisses me off whenever Billy Sullivan is named he's praised as the guy who brought pro football back to NE. That's BS. Boston was a great sports down, and the 6th larges TV market in the country. The NFL was coming to Boston whether Billy Sullivan was here or not. The Boston Market was at the top of the list for an expansion team before they got an AFL franchise. Do you really think it made more economic sense to give expansion franchises to towns like NO and Tampa over Boston, if Boston had been available? I don;t think so.

    The Sullivans were a cancer they Patriots had to overcome to be what they are now. They god they are gone and any vestige of their ownership long gone.
     
  14. Rusty Coupe

    Rusty Coupe Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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  15. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    The problem is that Fairbanks recruited players while as HC of the NEP without the consent of his current employer. The Sullivans acted poorly but so did Fairbanks. He certainly deserves a slice of the blame pie here...

    I do agree with some of the things you've said but I think to have such little respect for a man who put down his own money to found a franchise for this region and assume all the financial risk in the 30 years owning the team is a bit unfair. Doing business and making financial decisions can sometimes be cruel. He certainly stretched those bounderies but he was the majority owner which gave him that leverage.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  16. BelizePats

    BelizePats Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I've always felt the Sullivans were terrible owners. An earlier poster likened them to cheap used car salesmen or something like that. And I could not agree more with this.
    The Sullivans treated the franchise as an afterthought. So many wasted opportunities. For those of us who rememebr sitting in that stadium dodging punches and beer bottles, we are justified to think poorly of the Sullivan family and how they treated and ran "our" beloved franchise.

    Anyone up for a Bobby Greir discussion????

    Cheers,

    Rich
     
  17. robertweathers

    robertweathers Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    The Sullivans could be malicious, callous, vindictive.

    Bobby Greir was a case study in the Peter Principal. The more management authority he was given, the bigger his mistakes became.
     
  18. Jimke

    Jimke In the Starting Line-Up

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    This was also the way I remember the situation. The Sullivan's fired Fairbanks on the spot and appointed Ron Erhardt interim head coach.

    The troubles had started years earlier. Fairbanks was both head coach and general manager. When the first contracts for Leon Gray and John Hannah expired, Fairbanks negotiated new contracts for both of them. Chuck Sullivan found out and vetoed the contracts.

    What transpired was a holdout by both players. They signed later on but
    the team got off to a bad start in their absence and missed the playoffs.

    The first move the Patriots made the next season after Fairbanks left was to trade off Leon Gray.
     
  19. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract

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    I am one of the genration that goes back to the 60s and formation of the Patriots. Yes I hated the Giants and even more the smug "TV fans" of the Giants who never saw a real game but were willing to tell Patriots fans to go get a football.

    More over they were on TV 14 games a year and New England fans never got to see any other NFL teams or games. Unless of course they were the opponents of the Giants that week.

    I give credit to Billy Sullivan, a self made man and promoter, who was woefully undercapitalized and too poor to be a NFL owner. I always thought that Mike Holovak had to save string and alluminum foil from bubblegum and cigarette wrappers as well as coach the Patriots. Amid the endless unsigned draft picks, the Pats were still a competitive but usually a second place club, just like the Red Sox.

    Fairbanks decided to jump back to college after he experienced the limits that Sullivan's lack of financing forced on him.

    But the difference between the way Sullivan and Kraft handled exactly the same probem, is very reminiscent and contrasting. Sullivan fired
    Fairbanks as a playoff game loomed, and banished him disrupting the team.

    Kraft kept his counsel and temper under control, waited as Parcells led he team thruough the Playoffs and into the Superbowl, before losing to a better team that season.

    Only then did Kraft fire Parcells. He kept his cool, counsel and emnity under control, until the season was over. He did the same with Pete Carroll. Nothing ever good comes from precipitous football firing.

    Except to cut your own throat, and proverbially bite your nose to spite your face.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2012
  20. BananaRepublican

    BananaRepublican Banned

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    Spoken just like Richard Haldeman and other loyalty-lovers who let Fantasy Life cloud their reasoning.

    This whole "blame Fairbanks" theme is off target. In divorces we have two parties, and both have to share the blame. The blamers don't want to let this sorry situation be what it is. It is a failure on the part of both parties, as was the Parcells situation, the Jimmy Johnson situation, and many other situations. If it makes you feel better, and I suspect it does, then blame one side but you are totally missing the point.

    Hey, it BOTHERED ME TOO, but I'm not going to sit here and play Fantasy World and get off on blaming Fairbanks. Fairbanks walked because he felt he had to walk, and that whole situation/feeling could have been prevented.

    In the end organizations win SBs, right? So we didn't have the organization at that time. It's that painfully obvious. We just didn't have the organization. It wasn't built rock solid. It had a hole in it. Yes, it was a great team, perhaps better than the teams that won SBs for us, but we need a new definition of team and that is "organization". Teams don't just include the foot soldiers. Teams are built from the top to bottom and all the junction points have to work together or it's not going to win SBs.

    So we came VERY CLOSE but ended up with no cigar, but that is like a lot of other teams like the Bengals or the Bills. There is no way to blame a kicker or a QB or a defense. The team lost. What can be accomplished by blaming the kicker?
     
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