Today in Patriots History
June 29 is an extremely slow news day in Pats history, but here's something worth remembering:
- Training camp opens on Tuesday, July 27
- First practice with full pads is on Monday, August 2
- First preseason game is on Thursday, August 5 in Canton, Ohio
- Thursday, August 12: first preseason game, versus Washington
- September 12, 4:25 pm: first real game, home versus Miami
June 29, 1965: Patriots sign the Winchester Rifle, 1960 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino, after his completion of a four year commitment to the Navy. Bellino was one of the greatest high school athletes in New England sports history, leading Winchester High School to two state basketball championships, batting over .400 on their baseball team (he was also offered a major league baseball contract), as well as being an outstanding back on their football team.
Joe Bellino was nicknamed the "Winchester Rifle" – a reference to his hometown and high school as well as his explosive running style. He was a fast and agile back who specialized in finding daylight in the smallest of holes.
"My first step was at top speed," explained Bellino. "I could hit the hole as fast as anyone, then quickly get outside."
He starred at Navy from 1958-60 under College Football Hall of Fame head coach Wayne Hardin, rushing for 1,664 yards on 330 carries and scoring 31 touchdowns during his three-year career while also serving as a dangerous return man.
In 1960, Bellino rushed for 834 yards and 17 touchdowns and added 17 receptions for another 280 yards while leading Navy to a 9-2 record. After beating archrival Army 17-12, Navy earned an invitation to the prestigious Orange Bowl – losing 21-14 to Missouri on Jan. 2 in Miami. Bellino also inspired a 14-7 win over Notre Dame and had four touchdowns and a 90-yard run against Virginia that season.
A unanimous All-America selection, he was awarded the Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award in 1960. Playing both ways, Bellino was also a defensive back, recording an end zone interception to preserve Navy's narrow victory over Army that year.
In 1958, he scored the Middies' only touchdown in a 22-6 loss to Army. He avenged the loss to the Cadets by gaining 115 yards and scoring three touchdowns in a 43-12 victory the following season.
Bellino, who also played baseball for the Midshipmen, capped his senior year by winning Navy's top two athletic awards – the Thompson Trophy and the Naval Academy Athletic Association Sword, marking the first time in 41 years that one midshipman received both honors. His No. 27 jersey was retired following the 1960 season.
Bellino was selected in both the NFL Draft (17th round by the Washington Redskins) and AFL Draft (19th round by the Boston Patriots) in 1961. He chose the Patriots, but would not suit up for the team until 1965 due to his Naval commitment. Bellino spent three seasons with the Pats, primarily as a kick returner. He is the only Heisman Trophy winning running back to play for the Patriots. (The Pats have had five other Heisman winners play, all quarterbacks: John Huarte (1964), Jim Plunkett (1970), Doug Flutie (1984), Vinny Testaverde (1986) and Cam Newton (2010). There is also Tim Tebow (2007), but he was strictly a preseason side show.) Joe was also the lowest drafted Heisman winner in NFL history due to the military commitment, though it should also be noted that three recipients went undrafted. Pete Dawkins (1958) went to Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar after graduating from Army, and Charlie Ward (1993) chose the NBA over the NFL.
Joe Bellino served 28 years in the Navy and Naval Reserve, retiring with the rank of captain. He also spent four decades working in the auto leasing and auction industry.
Navy annually presents the Joe Bellino Award to the varsity football player whose inspiring on-field performance made a significant impact on the team and contributed to its overall success during the season.
Happy 57th birthday to David Hendley
Born June 29, 1964 in Spartanburg, South Carolina
Patriot safety, 1987; uniform #28
Hendley appeared in the first two of the three replacement games with the Pats in the 1987 strike season. The next two years he was in the Arena Football League: in '88 with the New England Steamrollers and in '89 for the Denver Dynamite. Hendley then returned to his alma mater as a defensive backs coach at Southern Connecticut State. David has had a nice business career, progressing to several VP positions with Honda. Most recently he was vice-president of auto operations and logistics at the carmaker. Hendley had been with American Honda for 16 years working across a range of roles involving sales, field operations and export management up until this past March.
David Hendley | ArenaFan.com
David Hendley | LinkedIn
David Hendley - Executives - Honda News
Other pro football players with New England area connections born on this date:
- Stephen Hauschka, 36 (6/29/85); it would make sense that for a high school that is a perennial powerhouse in soccer while mediocre in football, one of just two players in NFL history to come from Needham High School would be a kicker. Stephen played soccer, basketball and lacrosse for the Rockets and did not play football until he failed to make the varsity cut for the division III soccer team at Middlebury College in Vermont. Hauschka finished in the top ten in league scoring in four straight seasons with Seattle, then signed a four-year, $12.4 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in 2017. He retired six months ago with 1,149 career points scored, which ranks 48th most all time.
Hauschka was among the league's most accurate field goal kickers in 2016.
Stephen Hauschka remains second in Seahawks history in points scored and first in field goals.
- Steve Lubischer, 59 (6/29/62); linebacker from Boston College during the Doug Flutie days. In 1983 his crucial plays led to BC's 20-13 victory over Alabama. He now works as VP of Global Sales for Precision Spine in New Jersey.
Stephen A Lubischer | Class of 1980
- Joe 'Speed' Braney (1893-1949); Speed was born in Ireland, grew up in Rhode Island and went to Dean Academy (predecessor to Dean College) in Franklin MA. An All-American offensive lineman at Syracuse, Braney played and coached for the Providence Steam Roller in the 1920s.
Dan Dierdorf, 72 (6/29/49); prior to his 30 years as a broadcaster, from 1971 to 1983 Dierdorf was a Hall of Fame tackle with the St Louis Cardinals.
- Claude Humphrey, 77 (6/29/44); six time Pro Bowler and Hall of Fame defensive end's career spanned three decades, 171 games from 1968 to 1981 with the Falcons and Eagles.
- Bill 'Boom-Boom' Brown (1938-2018); Vikings' four time Pro Bowl fullback scored 56 touchdowns while missing just two games over his 14 year career (1961-74).
When Steve Tasker was about to retire from the Buffalo Bills in 1997, many pundits talked about is candidacy for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Aside from former Chiefs kicker Jan Stenerud, no play…
- Dennis Pitta, 36 (6/29/85); Raven tight end bounced back from two injury filled seasons with a career high 86 receptions in 2016, but a third hip injury during OTAs ended his NFL career in 2017.