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May 8th in Pats History: Shouldn't Have Cut Him So Quickly

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Sep 12th

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jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
One That Got Away


Happy 66th birthday to Steve Freeman
Born May 8, 1953 in Lamesa, Texas
Patriot safety, 1975 (offseason); uniform #22
Pats 5th round (117th overall) selection of the 1975 draft, from Mississippi State

The Patriots selected Steve Freeman with a draft pick they had received from Philadelphia when John Tarver was traded away. Freeman was placed on waivers in late August and claimed by the Bills the next day, and never played in a real game for the Patriots. After signing with Buffalo he went on to play for 13 seasons in the NFL, 12 with the Bills. Freeman appeared in a total of 190 NFL games, with 23 interceptions and 8 fumble recoveries.




Freeman later worked as college official and has now worked as an NFL official since 2001, as a back judge.






May 8, 1979: Patriots hire Gino Cappelletti as special teams coach, in what was Ron Erhardt's first year as head coach.




May 8, 2015: Patriots sign six undrafted rookie free agents
Two of those choices worked out very well: C David Andrews, and ST Brandon King.




May 8, 2019: Pats sign OT Jared Veldheer to a one-year, $3.5 million contract.
Veldheer was penciled in to be the starting left tackle following the loss of Trent Brown in free agency, but after one single off season workout he retired - and then decided to unretire in midseason.




Other pro football players with New England area connections:

Booth Lusteg (5/8/39-7/12/12) Born and raised in New Haven, Lusteg went to UConn but did not play football there. He was a baseball player in college and 1B/OF in the minor leagues for two seasons. The Bills had open auditions for a kicker when Pete Gogolak was injured. Lusteg was a frustrated actor who was playing for the New Bedford Sweepers in the old Atlantic Coast Football League. In an attempt to appear younger, Lusteg used his younger brother's identity. He won the job over a variety of miscreants, including an Austrian count who lived in the Alps and a guy with one arm and one eye.

The fib about his age almost caught up to him. His brother went to BC and when Buffalo's bus driver got lost on the way to Alumni Stadium to play the Patriots, Lusteg was asked for directions. Acting like he knew where he was going, the team bus miraculously arrived at the destination. Lusteg finished second to Gino Cappelletti in scoring in that 1966 season. He spent two seasons in the American Football League, two in the NFL and one in the World Football League.


Ryan Purvis, 31 (5/8/86); Boston College, class of 2009
The TE had 113 receptions for 1,122 yards and six TD at BC from 2005-08. He went undrafted and signed with Tampa Bay, spending most of 2009 on the practice squad. When Jerramy Stevens was released after an arrest, Purvis was promoted to the active roster. He appeared in ten games with five catches on six targets for 38 yards in 2010, but did not survive roster cuts in 2011.


Bill Godwin (5/8/19-3/26/98); C/LB for the 1947-48 Boston Yanks.




One other notable pro football player born May 8 that is part of Patriots folklore:

- Keith Lincoln (5/8/1939-7/27/2019); five-time AFL All-Star RB single handedly demolished the Patriots in the 1963 AFL championship game. His 206 yards rushing (on a mere 13 carries), 123 receiving yards and a 20 yard pass completion led the way to San Diego's 51-10 victory. More than fifty years later his 329 yards from scrimmage is still a single-game postseason record, one that may never be broken. Over his career he scored touchdowns rushing (19), receiving (19), passing (5), kick return (1), punt return (1), plus kicked five field goals and 16 extra points.
 

captain stone

Hall of Fame Poster
Yep, Freeman was definitely one of those Who Got Away because of short-sightedness and/or improper evaluation...Fairbanks had his share of those, but one would think that because of his extensive experience recruiting & evaluating many of the same players now entering the league during the early '70s that mistakes like that would not and should not have happened.
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Yep, Freeman was definitely one of those Who Got Away because of short-sightedness and/or improper evaluation...Fairbanks had his share of those, but one would think that because of his extensive experience recruiting & evaluating many of the same players now entering the league during the early '70s that mistakes like that would not and should not have happened.
I tried to figure out who Fairbanks kept over Freeman, but those type of details from that long ago can be a bit difficult to decipher.

The previous season the Pats had Prentice McCray at FS and Jack Mildren as the SS, but Mildren retired in July because he could make more money working in the oil business - a rationale that sounds inconceivable today . (Mildren had been the QB at Oklahoma for Fairbanks and was considered to be the greatest quarterback in OU history; when he signed with the Patriots many sports writers thought Fairbanks would convert him back to QB, and make him the starter over Plunkett. Mildren went on to become LT Governor in Oklahoma while the overlooked guy drafted one spot before Freeman did make the roster: Steve Grogan).


So with Mildren no longer on the roster one would think Freeman had a pretty good chance of making the team. McCray and John Sanders were the starting safeties in '75. The Pats traded for Donnie Walker and Derrick Williams after waiving Freeman, but neither made the team. Sandy Durko was still on the team at that time for depth, though he would not play for the Pats at all that year. Dick Conn wasn't signed until November. Maybe they thought Jim Massey would serve as a backup safety as well as corner?

At this point it is unlikely that we will ever know what the thought process was for the position at that time.
 

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