Tag Archives: New England Patriots History

Rodney Harrison Is the People’s Choice for the Patriots Hall of Fame

Steve Balestrieri
May 7, 2019 at 6:30 am ET

The voters have spoken for the Patriots team Hall of Fame and Rodney Harrison has garnered the most votes, having bested both Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel. He’ll be getting his red jacket at a ceremony later this summer.

Harrison, on a teleconference call with the media, said he was surprised by the vote. “I was kind of like frozen because I’m telling you, I had it in my mind that I wasn’t going to be the guy,” Harrison said. “You just kind of get used to that, whether it’s Pro Bowls or things like that. Once they told me, I just thanked God and gave Him all this praise. And I just started receiving all these text messages from (Patriots LB Tedy) Bruschi and a whole bunch of people, so it was just a really, really proud moment for me and my family.”

Rodney Harrison finished Super Bowl XXXVIII with a broken arm but refused to leave the field

Harrison was often overlooked at how good he was because of his reputation as a dirty player. He only garnered two Pro Bowl nods but between 2003 and 2008, he was one of the most valuable players on the Patriots defense. Bill Belichick has said that Harrison was the best practice player he ever coached.

“That’s why it meant so much to me, so much more to me because it’s not going by reputation. You don’t have to have a certain reputation — good, bad or indifferent. The fans knew that I loved football. I gave everything for the organization, for my teammates, and for the fans and my family.”

Harrison had seven interceptions in nine playoff games for the Patriots, including two in Super Bowl XXXIX against Philadelphia. He also came to the Patriots with a reputation for tough, physical play and in his first two seasons (both Super Bowl wins) he led the Patriots in tackles with 140 (a career high) and 138.

Harrison is the only defensive back in NFL history with 30 sacks (30.5) and 30 interceptions. He was a team captain for all six of his Patriots seasons. He will be inducted with Leon Gray at a ceremony to be determined later this summer.

All three nominees are very deserving but Harrison has been the most visible with his hosting of Sunday Night Football telecasts with Tony Dungy. That certainly didn’t hurt his candidacy. Both Harrison and Seymour belong in Canton.

Of those Patriots’ teams that won three Super Bowls in four years, Harrison becomes the seventh player to be inducted into the team’s HOF. He’ll join Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013), Ty Law (2014), Willie McGinest (2015), Kevin Faulk (2016) and Matt Light (2018).

Looking for a Gift for the Patriots Fan That Has Everything?

Steve Balestrieri
April 19, 2019 at 7:54 am ET

We all know that New England Patriots fans are avid about having the latest and best shirts, hats, videos etc.that have to do about the team, the Super Bowl wins and the on-going dynasty for the past two decades.  

And if you’re looking for a gift for that person who has just about everything Patriots-related then this book is just for you. A company called “In-the-Book” has compiled a history of the Patriots told thru articles in the Washington Post.

It is a very nicely done, hardbound cover history of the team. Some of the earlier articles, taken from the Post’s archives don’t have the clarity of the more recent pieces but reading a story about the 1960 team where Butch Songin led the Pats to a 38-21 victory over the New York Titans right next to ads that are selling brand new snow tires for $12.77 a piece or a car lot selling brand new imports for $1500 is interesting to see how things truly have changed.

There are articles, pictures, and box scores from many of the games that… if you were even around back then, you’d long forgotten about but then a glance at the piece or box score will bring back a flood of memories. Some good, some not-so-good. But that represents a true history of this franchise.

The company had reached out to us and sent us a copy for our review, and will even publish a dedication inside to someone. For our purposes, I figured that it would be best served by giving it to a young fan who would appreciate the history and have something to keep and use for reference. So, I dedicated our copy to Brady Goldman, our colleague Russ’ son. He’s gotten big into the team the past few years as he’s grown up and now can’t get enough.

This would be a perfect gift for those like him or that older fan who has everything and will present a good look at the days of yore.  

You can order one here by clicking on the link:

The company has excellent customer service personnel who will be very helpful if you have any questions and is a great keepsake for the Patriots fan who would like a beautifully done book that can be passed on to the next generation of fans.

Personalized inscription
Headlines from the ’80s


Latest SB win

New England Patriots News 04-07, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
April 7, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 04-07 and AFC East Notes.

We have begun our draft profiles on players that we feel would fit the team, our first on tight ends can be seen here:  And our follow-up post on possible wide receiver fits can be seen here: Our draft profiles on defensive tackles is here:

ICYMI: Our second Mock Draft 2.0 attempt at building the 2019 Patriots roster is in the books. You can recap it here: I believe we all expect the Patriots to be very active in this one, possibly packing some picks for a trade or perhaps moving around the board as they are very used to doing.

And be sure to check out for pre-Draft Podcasts with Derek Havens and I going over some of the possible fits for the Patriots in the upcoming draft.

Quick Hitters:

Michael Bennett had the felony charges against him dropped in Texas. After the Super Bowl in Houston, he was trying to get on the field to congratulate his brother Martellus when he supposedly shoved a 66-year-old paraplegic security staffer, who suffered a sprained arm. The DA dropped the charges “in the interest of justice” as they didn’t feel there was sufficient evidence to earn a conviction.

Tom Brady was in People Magazine after he signed what he dubbed, “the coolest helmet I’ve ever signed.” The helmet with many Patriots-themed illustrations didn’t appear to have a clear area for #12 to sign. We’ll leave the picture here for fans to decide on the coolness of it.

Patriots Huge in China: The Chinese have definitely taken a shine to the Patriots. According to CNN, the Patriots have enjoyed a “monumental” year in the world’s most populous nation, becoming the first NFL team to hit 500,000 followers on Weibo, which is the Chinese version of Twitter. Weibo has around 300 million monthly active users.

The Patriots were the team that put the biggest onus on creating daily content that would specifically be attractive to Chinese fans. Which included graphics in Mandarin,, and short video explainers on American Football.

“The Patriots this past season have set themselves apart from the rest of the league in terms of creating original Chinese content,” Gideon Clark, client director at Mailman, said to CNN.

Red Sox/Patriots championships for the 2018 season will both be honored at the Red Sox home opener on Tuesday. RS President Sam Kennedy told media members that the Patriots have accepted their invitation to attend and conduct a joint celebration.

The Patriots are celebrating their sixth title since 2001 while the Red Sox are recognizing their fourth since 2004.

Patriots Draft Caps were released by New Era caps that the players who are drafted by the team will wear on stage when they are selected. In a word…bland.

Rodgers and McCarthy Excoriated in B/R Piece:

Aaron Rodgers was raked over the coals in the recent piece by Bleacher Report’s Tyler Dunne. And former head coach Mike McCarthy wasn’t spared the rod either in this compelling yet disturbing story. Calling this an unflattering look at Rodgers is like saying the Titanic encountered ice problems on her maiden voyage.

This was a truly toxic relationship and Dunne says it was over before it began. Rodgers, it was said, never forgave McCarthy for drafting Alex Smith before him in the NFL Draft and it poisoned their relationship before it even began. This story, unlike the one that pictured Brady and Belichick at odds, named names and had quotes from many former Packers players.

Rodgers changed about a third of the plays McCarthy called and frequently told receivers to run different routes than what was called. After McCarthy was fired, Packers President Mark Murphy called Rodgers to tell him the team was hiring new coach Matt LaFleur speaks a lot of how bad things have gotten in GB.

Murphy called Rodgers to tell him who they were going with. He didn’t ask for permission—he told him who the choice was. There was a brief pause on the other end of the phone before Rodgers eventually spoke. Murphy made it clear that Rodgers would need to accept coaching. “Don’t be the problem,” he told him. “Don’t be the problem.”

Leon Gray Elected to the Patriots HOF:

With the meeting of the Patriots Hall of Fame Committee this week to select the three finalists for this season’s fan induction, the 10-member Senior Selection Committee met to elect a player who has been retired for 25 years or longer. This year’s selection was former Patriots offensive tackle, Leon Gray.

Gray was drafted by Miami but cut at the end of training camp. He was quickly scooped up by Chuck Fairbanks of the Pats and quickly became one of the best tackles in the NFL. He and John Hannah comprised an outstanding combination at guard and tackle and were instrumental in setting the NFL record for team rushing yards in 1978, a record that still stands today.

Gray was underpaid in relation to tackles around the league and would be gone by 1979 to Houston. He later played for  New Orleans. He was a four-time Pro Bowler with two All-Pro seasons. He died in 2001. The selections for the team HOF will be announced later this week.

Why A 1st Round WR? He’s a Perfect Fit:

“The Patriots have NEVER selected a WR in the first round of the Bill Belichick era.” Yes I know, and judging from the emails I received after Mock Draft 2.0, a lot of Patriots fans know that too. But if there is one thing about this team, we’ve learned is to never say never.

So, with that being said, we opted for a wide receiver from Ole Miss at the end of the first round who was still there, during a draft simulation.No, it wasn’t D.K. Metcalf, the physical freak who has everyone drooling in fantasy football dream scenarios. It was his teammate A.J. Brown who was actually a ton more productive.

Metcalf caught 67 passes for Ole Miss during parts of three college seasons. Brown caught 189 for 2984 yards (15.5-yard average) with 19 touchdowns. He’s been compared to JuJu Smith-Schuster by several draft writers.

He’s got very good size at 6’0, 226, and has good but not great long speed. But before everyone begins to say a “deep threat receiver” keep in mind that Brown can do a lot more than that. He can work as a traditional “X” wide receiver, the “Z” or out of the slot. His route running and route tree is much better than his ex-teammate.

He can be a chain mover and stretch the field horizontally as well as vertically, something the Patriots offense is more aligned with. He’s versatile and can play multiple positions. He can be a very productive receiver in this offense. Now the only question that remains is, would he fall as far as #32 and if he did… would the Patriots, who already had a visit with him, select him in the 1st round?

Saban on Advice from Belichick – “Let the Players Play”:

There are times when you see obscure tweets and you at times just skip over them. There’s no way you can read everything that zips past your timeline. But when a good friend (@PatriotsSBLIII) tweets something, I usually stand up and pay attention. And when I miss something and frequently do, he’s always sharing stuff with me.

Nick Saban, head coach at Alabama was on the podium and talking not about coaching but “over-coaching” which can sometimes happen to coaches who try to hammer home every detail into players’ heads.

“Sometimes players are kind of depending on that reinforcement all the time in practice,” Saban said. “In a game, there’s no coach out there. I coached like that when I was an assistant — we’d have a scrimmage at the Cleveland Browns, and Belichick would chew my butt out, man. He’d say, ‘Let the players play.’

“And I was like, ‘Wow. I’ve never had my butt chewed out before for coaching and teaching.’ “

But as Saban continued, he said that learned that Belichick was right and adopted the same style of coaching.

“I say the same things to our coaches now, because there’s a time when you’ve just got to let the players play. Because in the game, they’ve got to know what to do, they’ve got to know how to do it, they can’t depend on somebody else to make a call for them. They can’t depend on somebody else to recognize things for them.”

“So, we actually do stuff in practice now, when we do team I make the coaches get off the field, make the calls, let the players play,” he added.

One of the hallmarks of Belichick coached teams and a trait that they value is having smart football players. Guys who will take the coaching, do the preparation needed and be able to recognize what they see in front of them in a game and know what they’re supposed to do.  This is just a small example of how blessed the Patriots fans are in New England.


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Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Adam Schein Is Bullish on Bills and Allen:

Sports radio host and NFL analyst Adam Schein is really high on both the Buffalo Bills and their second-year QB Josh Allen and predicts great not good things for the duo in 2019. He appeared on the One Bills Live radio show and echoed those thoughts.

“I’m obsessed with the Bills. I love the coach; I love the GM; I love the potential of the young quarterback. I think he’s going to be great and I’m not just throwing that word around. I think Josh Allen’s gonna be an absolute star,” Schein said.

“Here’s a stat: 5-6. That was Allen’s record as a rookie starter. And given what people initially expected of the 2018 Bills, as well as the underwhelming offensive talent that surrounded Allen, that 5-6 mark speaks volumes,” Schein penned in an NFL.com article.

“A couple more stats that sing: 631 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground. Allen’s rushing ability was a revelation. Remember the hurdle of Anthony Barr? That’s not normal for a quarterback. Special stuff.”

He added, “Long story short: Allen enjoyed an encouraging rookie season. He silenced many naysayers. And that was just the beginning. Josh Allen is going to be great.”

That particular radio show had to be music to the ears of the fan base hungry for a contender. While many writers don’t share Schein’s optimism regarding Allen, he’ll have the chance to prove them all wrong in September.

Dolphins Meet With Duke QB Daniel Jones:

The Miami Dolphins search for a franchise QB, something they’ve struggled to find since Dan Marino retired continues. With their trade of Ryan Tannehill, they signed journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick as a bridge QB, but that signing is strictly a band-aid fix.

Jones played in a pro-style offense and has the arm strength, size, and patience in the pocket. He has a quick delivery and processes things quickly and accurately. It will be interesting to see if Miami pulls the trigger on Jones in the draft. The Duke signal caller has also drawn interest from the Broncos, Giants, and Chargers.

Miami also announced that Richmond Webb and Kenyan Drake will announce some of their 2019 NFL Draft picks in keeping with the recent tradition of having former and current players announcing selections for the team.

All Quiet on the Jets Front:

The New York Jets are keeping a very low profile heading into the draft. And there hasn’t been much of them in the news. While they prepare for the #3 pick in the draft, how the first two selections go will have a big influence on their decision.

Most of the talk this week was on the Jets new uniforms which are IOHO very boring, with the black third jersey looking far too much like the Philadelphia Eagles uniform. Sometimes new isn’t better, the Jets 1980s look to me was their best, just like the Patriots red uniforms, especially the away unis with red pants and white jerseys.

But in other “news” Robby Anderson is excited to be in Adam Gase’s offense, although he hasn’t officially seen it yet. And Jamal Adams doesn’t believe Gronk stays retired…Yawn.

“Is it Draft time yet? So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

NFL Week 11 Early Advanced ‘Look-Ahead’ Betting Lines: Pats favored by 6 vs Raiders

John Morgan
November 11, 2017 at 5:30 pm ET

The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook has published their latest NFL Advanced Betting Lines. These early odds are posted prior to the following week’s games, including this past Thursday’s game between Seattle and Arizona. Also known as Look-Ahead lines, they give the adventurous sports fan an opportunity to wager on games up to twelve days away. Early lines offer a short opportunity to get a jump on odds that could be less favorable after Sunday’s games.

NFL Week 11 looks like it will have plenty of close games. There are no double-digit favorites, and only one game with a spread of more than seven. Home teams are favored in only half of the 14 scheduled games, and nine games have odds of 3½ or fewer points.

The week kicks off with Tennessee at Pittsburgh in Thursday night. In the early Sunday time slot there is what should be a great game between two NFC division leaders. The Rams are at Minnesota in a battle between two teams that have far exceeded expectations thus far in 2017. The winner will be in good position to head into the playoffs with a first round bye. LA has shown that all they needed was to rid themselves of Jeff Fisher, while the Vikings defense has carried the load after losing RB Dalvin Cook to a torn ACL.

In the late afternoon time slot the Patriots and Raiders renew a rivalry dating back to the inception of the American Football League 57 years ago. Players will face the challenge of the high altitude and smog of Mexico City in the 35th meeting between these two franchises. What’s the over/under on the number of times ‘tuck rule’ is mentioned on television that day? Don’t turn hearing that phrase into a drinking game; too many people will die from alcohol poisoning.

Week 11 wraps up with a pair of good prime time NFC games. On Sunday night the Eagles are at Dallas. Philly has a 2½ game lead heading into the week 10 games, and the Cowboys need a win to keep up for a chance of at least a wild card spot. Then on Monday night Atlanta is at Seattle. The two clubs have represented the NFC in the Super Bowl in three of the last four years. Both have underachieved somewhat this year despite their winning records, but still have enough talent to put together a long winning streak in the second half of the season.

NFL Week 11 Early Odds

Thursday Nov 16 at 8:30 pm ET on NBC
Tennessee Titans at Pittsburgh Steelers (-7)

Sunday Nov 19 at 1:00 pm ET on Fox
Detroit Lions (-2½) at Chicago Bears
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Miami Dolphins (-3½)
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings (-3)
Arizona Cardinals (-2) at Houston Texans
Washington Redskins at New Orleans Saints (-7)

Sunday Nov 19 at 1:00 pm ET on CBS
Kansas City Chiefs (-9½) at New York Giants
Baltimore Ravens (-3) at Green Bay Packers
Jacksonville Jaguars (-7) at Cleveland Browns

Sunday Nov 19 late afternoon games
Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Chargers (-3), 4:00 pm ET on Fox
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos (-2½), 4:30 pm ET on CBS
New England Patriots (-6) at Mexico City Raiders, 4:30 pm ET on CBS

Prime Time Games, 8:30 pm ET
Philadelphia Eagles (-1) at Dallas Cowboys, Sunday November 19 on NBC
Atlanta Falcons at Seattle Seahawks (-2), Monday November 20 on espn

Bye Week
Carolina Panthers
Indianapolis Colts
New York Jets
San Francisco 49ers

 

I like the Jaguars minus-7 against the Browns based on the numbers above. Another option is a three-point teaser two-game teaser. Bring Houston to plus-5 at home versus Arizona, and the Jags to minus-4 at Cleveland. For less risk (but a lower payoff) make it six points. That would give Houston more than a touchdown (+8) and Jacksonville just a minus-1.

Raymond Clayborn to be honored today at Gillette Stadium

John Morgan
September 24, 2017 at 11:30 am ET

The Patriots will honor the newest member of the franchise’s Hall of Fame today. During a half time ceremony at Gillette Stadium the Pats will hold a ceremony for Raymond Clayborn. The legendary number 26 is coincidentally the 26th person to join the Patriots Hall of Fame.

While I most certainly hoped Clayborn would get the nod this year, I wasn’t expecting it to turn out this way. I was very pleasantly surprised that the voting by Patriot Nation looked beyond recent star players. Thank you to all Patriot fans who did a bit of research that resulted in Clayborn’s induction. Fans could have easily gone along with the more recent memories. Richard Seymour, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in my opinion, was a finalist. So was Mike Vrabel, a key defender for three championship teams, and one of the most versatile players in NFL history.

Clayborn set the franchise record with 36 career interceptions (since tied by Ty Law). He returned three kickoffs for touchdown his rookie year, averaging 31 yards per return that season. Clayborn became a starter his second season and along with Mike Haynes combined for one of the best cornerback tandems in NFL history.

Don’t take my word on it; consider what the Pro Football Hall of Fame CB had to say on the subject.

“(NFL.com) did a poll of the top cornerback tandems, and they had myself and Lester Hayes at No. 1,” recalled Haynes. “You know what? Myself and Raymond might have been just as good. Really. Raymond Clayborn was a star.”

Clayborn was a three-time First Team All Pro but stats alone do not adequately state his impact. He was part of a core group of players that turned the franchise around from the worst team in the league to one of the NFL’s best. Perhaps if he had a Super Bowl ring – which was earned but stolen away in the Ben Dreith travesty – he and some other players from the late seventies would have been held in higher regard. Clayborn played in a team record 161 consecutive games and was named to the Patriots All-Decade Team for both the 1970s and 1980s.

Congratulations to Raymond Clayborn on this well deserved honor.

Stalemate may lead to no entry to Pats HoF for Raymond Clayborn

John Morgan
April 12, 2017 at 8:30 pm ET

I just read this disheartening Mike Reiss article from his espnBoston blog:

Logjam among senior candidates for Patriots’ Hall leads to stalemate

Arguably the biggest surprise of Wednesday’s New England Patriots Hall of Fame Nomination Committee meeting was the stalemate among voters between senior candidates Raymond Clayborn (cornerback) and Leon Gray (offensive tackle).

The column goes on to point out how difficult it is for older players such as Clayborn and Gray to gain entrance to the Patriots Hall of Fame, because fan voting inevitably results in younger, more recently retired players winning that popularity contest.

In regards to the ten-person senior committee, a nominee has to receive at least 80% of the votes. Neither side wanting Clayborn or Gray backed down, so neither got enough votes. Fred Marion and Ron Burton were the other nominees.

Reiss has a rather ominous speculation for those of us that have lobbied not only for Clayborn, but for more consideration and genuine opportunity for those that were part of the franchise prior to 2000.

It sparks the question of whether either will break the 80 percent senior threshold in the coming years to earn induction.

Is it time to change the process for Patriots Hall of Fame?

The time has come to at least reconsider the entire process for enshrinement to the Patriots Hall of Fame. It was a nice gesture by Robert Kraft to include fans by having them vote for the three finalists. That process however has proven to be flawed. The most recently retired players are fresh in people’s minds, and garner more votes. Older players don’t stand a chance of recognition.

Maybe the roles should be reversed. Have fans vote for the nominees, with a maximum number on the players and/or coaches from each decade. Then send those nominations to the entire committee to be pared to three finalists. Have the entire committee reconvene and vote on the winner. Make the whole process transparent by making the votes public.

We already waited too long for Houston Antwine, Jim Nance, Julius Adams and Chuck Fairbanks to be honored publicly, before they passed away. Let’s not let that happen again with Raymond Clayborn and other Patriot legends.

Remembering Patriot DT Houston Antwine

John Morgan
April 11, 2017 at 8:00 pm ET

Houston Antwine was born on April 11, 1939; he would have been 78 today. He was one of the best players in football history that is not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Antwine is also the greatest player in Patriot history that most Pats fans don’t know about.

Antwine played in 142 games over eleven seasons for the Patriots. 270 pounds may not be big by today’s standards, but in 1961 it was. Houston Antwine was a man among boys, constantly commanding double or even triple teams by opposing offenses. He wasn’t just some big slug though; Antwine was extremely athletic, using skills he had acquired as a collegiate wrestling champion. ’Twine was not only strong but also very quick on his feet, and nearly impossible to move out of the middle. He was also a well-rounded, versatile player; not only devastating against the run, but also tenacious on his pass rush, totaling 39 sacks in his career and leading the Pats in sacks three straight years.

“Houston Antwine was the kind of football player you don’t forget if you ever saw him, but he’s the kind few remember today because he did his playing before ESPN highlight shows existed. If they had, ‘Twine would have been a staple because he was everything you wanted in a defensive tackle — Warren Sapp before there was a Warren Sapp, but without the need for volume control.”

Antwine was an AFL All-Star six straight years, and was named to the All-Time All-AFL Team. Now stop and think about that for a moment. If a player that was named to the NFL’s all time team of the decade for say the 1990’s or 2000’s that also went to six consecutive Pro Bowls, would there even be any discussion as to whether or not he should be voted in to the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Probably not. Yet Antwine earned identical honors that just so happened to be at an earlier time. Why was he be penalized for that?

Perhaps the biggest reason is because it took far too long for his own team to honor him. The Pats set up their team Hall of Fame in 1991. John Hannah was the original inductee, in the same year he became the first Patriot enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The following year Nick Buoniconti and Gino Cappelletti got their bust at Patriot Place. Antwine was more deserving these two legends though. Buoniconti is more well known for his championships in Miami rather than his seven seasons with the Patriots. As good as Cappelletti was he was never the league’s premier player at a position the way Antwine was.

Legitimate cases can be made for those three, but not for the next group. In 1993 the Pats’ HoF added three more players from the sixties. Nothing against Bob Dee, Jim Lee Hunt or Babe Parilli, but Houston Antwine was a far more dominant football player. In terms of the Hall of Fame the Patriots were ‘on to the seventies and eighties’ after that, for all intents done with AFL-era players.

Houston Antwine

Yes, the Patriots eventually did add Antwine to the hall in 2015. Sadly it was four years after he passed away. He deserved to go in twenty-plus years earlier, while he was still alive. So why did that not happen? His play on the field was such that he deserved to be the first player after John Hannah to enter the Patriot Hall of Fame.

Rumor has it that some of the old time writers did not care for him. Maybe he wasn’t friendly enough with the old guard and they held a grudge. He was one of 22 players to boycott the 1965 AFL all star game in New Orleans, where Jim Crow laws and blatant racism still prevailed; maybe that protest against conditions there had something to do with it.

Regardless of the reason, it started a vicious circle. The thought process was that if Antwine’s own team would not honor him, he couldn’t have been good enough for the Pro Football Hall of Fame – who already were showing an obvious bias against consideration for AFL players.

More time passed, and fewer and fewer writers and fans were old enough to remember or appreciate Antwine. The thinking of those nominating and voting for for the Patriot Hall of Fame mirrored that of those voting for enshrinement to Canton. On the rare occasion his name was brought up it was quickly dismissed. The sentiment was that ‘he couldn’t have been that good if all these other old timers are in and he is not’.

Commencing in 2011 a ten-person senior committee was formed. They were scheduled to convene and have the option of adding one Patriot that had been retired for at least 25 years. It seemed like such a no-brainer; Antwine surely would finally be honored in Foxboro. He had already been a finalist three times, futily up against more recent and recognizable players. Incredibly his election still did not happen. Jon Morris was a good guy with a nice career but he was not close to the same level of player as Houston Antwine. Apparently the old time writers refused to let go of whatever grudges they were holding on to.

In December of 2005 Antwine was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The disease was allegedly caused by repeated blows to the head from his playing days, back when concussions were just “dings” and players were expected to just shake it off and keep going. Houston Antwine passed away in December of 2011 at the age of 72, a few months after Morris was inducted to the Pats Hall of Fame. The senior committee must have felt a bit of remorse; they then voted Antwine in the next time they met.

 

Fan voting for the Patriots Hall of Fame will commence in the next few days. Hopefully Pats fans will carefully consider “forgotten” players such as Raymond Clayborn, and not simply cast their ballot for the most recently retired nominee.

New England Patriots History: Happy Birthday Ernie Adams

John Morgan
March 31, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

Today in the history of the New England Patriots we celebrate the birthday of the man, the myth, the legend: Ernie Adams. Ernie Adams turns turns 64 on March 31. The Pats’ Football Research Director is Bill Belichick’s trusted right hand man. Though he avoids publicity more than Greta Garbo, Adams is arguably one of the three most important people to the team’s success this millennium. March 31 is also the birth date of former Patriots Jim Colclough and Bam Childress.

 

Ernie Adams – Patriot Football Research Director

As a youth Ernie Adams’ primary interests were military history and football strategy. ‘Interest’ is actually putting it extremely mildly. As a teen Adams owned a copy of Football Scouting Methods, an obscure book read almost exclusively by a select group professional football scouts. That book was written by one Steve Belichick – Bill Belichick’s father. As fate would have it the two would meet when the younger Belichick enrolled at Phillips Academy. The perfect alliance was born.

Adams enrolled at Northwestern University where he sought a job as a student assistant on the football coaching staff, and his coaching career took off. After graduation he bugged Chuck Fairbanks for a job as an unpaid assistant, and New England’s coach finally relented. He immediately impressed far beyond expectations. After Fairbanks departed for greener pastures, Adams caught on with the New York Giants. Once there he told head coach Ray Perkins there was somebody he needed to hire: Bill Belichick. Adams moved up the ranks and was Bill Parcells’ director of pro personnel from 1982-85. After becoming frustrated with the Giants he left football to become a bonds trader on Wall Street.

Belichick and Adams reunited when BB became Cleveland’s head coach in 1991. Art Modell – who should go down in infamy for firing the two greatest coaches in pro football history – dumped Belichick on his way out of town for Baltimore. Adams was apparently not eager to again work for Bill Parcells, and started his own investment business.

Ernie Adams joins the New England Patriots

Adams joined the Patriots’ staff when Belichick became New England’s head coach in 2000. Adams is known for thinking outside of the box, beyond the scope of traditional football thought. A Rutgers statistics professor once published a study on when teams should go for a two-point conversion. Adams was the only NFL person to contact the professor to follow up on his work. From his viewpoint up above in the coaches box, Adams is one of the few with direct communications to Belichick.

Tom Brady said Adams “knows more about professional football than anyone I ever met.” Brady added “You have to make (the defense) defend the width of the field and the length of the field. Ernie told me, he once told me, ‘Make them defend every blade of grass.’ I think that’s a great thing to do. They’ve got to be able to – that’s how you stress the defense. You can force the ball to all different parts of the field, and they never really know who’s going to get it.”

I highly recommend that everyone read (or re-read) David Halberstam’s Education of a Coach for more insight on Ernie Adams. If you don’t have a copy already you can get one on Amazon for a couple bucks. In the interim, check out these articles; they are well worth the time to read them (despite in some cases the source).

Ernie Adams

Mystery Man – If you’re a true Patriot, then you need to know Ernie Adams, Coach Bill Belichick’s voice-in-his ear, football-genius right-hand man | Northwestern University Magazine

Who Is This Guy? You don’t know his face, but he’s the biggest secret behind the Patriot’s success | ESPN

The Patriots’ man behind the curtain – Is little-known Bill Belichick confidant Ernie Adams the secret to the Patriots’ success? | Boston Globe

Tom Brady shares words of wisdom from New England Patriots research director Ernie Adams | MassLive.com

Adams’s role? It’s top secret | boston.com

Why Ernie Adams is so interesting | WEEI

 

Jim Colclough, Patriot WR 1960-68

Jim Colclough (3/31/1936-5/16/2004)
Uniform #81

The Quincy native and Boston College grad was an original Patriot and star of the American Football League. He was a late draft pick of Washington in 1959. Colclough did not make the Redskin roster and then played in Canada for one year. Colclough is a member of the Pats’ All-Decade Team of the 1960’s. He caught 283 passes for 5001 yards, averaging 17.7 yards per reception while scoring 39 touchdowns.

From the Patriots’ 1968 media guide:

An all-time Patriot … has provided Pats fans through the years with some of their greatest thrills … ranks behind only (Lance) Allworth and Dubenion in best all-time AFL average gain with passes caught (17.6) … ranks ninth in top ten of all-time AFL pass receivers.

More from the Patriots’ archives:

Jim Colclough was one of the original Patriots, having played with Boston from 1960 through 1968. He was also one of the most productive wide receivers in franchise history, a fact not widely know among some of the later-generation Patriots fans since his playing days came in the early days when pro football was just getting its foothold in New England.

But make no mistake, Jim had some of the best hands in the game.

Jim spent a season in 1965 with the New York Jets where he developed a close friendship with superstar Joe Namath. Later, along with the Bruins Derek Sanderson, they opened a sports bar in Boston’s Park Square called The Bachelors 3.

After football, Jim got a Masters in Education. He was the head coach at Boston State (Div. III) and won the league championship in 1978-79. He also worked in the financial services field and authored a Lotus program eventually bought by New England Life.

From his 2004 obituary:

Colclough launched his professional career as a defensive back for a season in the Canadian Football League, but returned to his native New England in 1960 when he signed as a receiver with the Boston Patriots of the American Football League. That year, he led the team with 49 receptions for 666 yards and nine touchdowns. For the next nine seasons, he was one of the most productive players in the AFL, compiling 283 career receptions for 5,001 yards and 39 touchdowns. His 17.7-yard average per reception remains third in franchise history and his 39 touchdown receptions currently ranks fourth.

He held the Patriots career record with 5,001 yards receiving until Stanley Morgan eclipsed it in 1983 and he remains one of only five Patriots players to reach the 5,000-yard receiving plateau. His 283 career receptions still ranks seventh in franchise history.

Jim Colclough

On a side not, for more on Bachelor’s 3 check out the following:

The End of Daisy Buchanan’s: Sports Stars Flocked to Storied Boston Bar | Boston Globe

Bruins Legend Derek Sanderson Recalls His Venture Into The Bar Business With Joe Namath | The Post Game

The Bachelor’s III Ordeal | Tales from the AFL

 

Bam Childress, Patriot WR 2005-06

Brandon ‘Bam’ Childress, 35 (3/31/1982)
Uniform #13

As a basketball player in high school Childress averaged 18 points per game and his team won the state championship. His football team made it to the state semifinals. Childress set school career records for scoring (202 points), touchdowns (33), receiving yards (2,258), touchdown receptions (21), punt returns for a touchdown (seven) and all-purpose yardage (7,103). Childress was named the state of Ohio’s ‘Mr. Football’ in 1999. He began his college football career at Ohio State as a cornerback, then reverted to his role at wide receiver.

The Patriots signed the 5-foot-10-inch, 185-pound Childress as an undrafted rookie in July of 2005. The Pats worked Childress out at both corner and receiver and he spent nearly the full season on the practice squad. Childress was activated for the final 2005 regular season game. In the game most well known for Doug Flutie’s drop kick, Childress saw his first NFL action. He caught three out of four passes thrown his way for 32 yards, with a long of 21. Childress also had five tackles (two solo).

Childress was part of final training camp cuts in 2006. He spent most of the season on the practice squad, activated for the season opener and a week 15 game. He spent all of 2007 on New England’s practice squad and then signed with Philadelphia. The Eagles cut Childress just prior to the start of the 2008 season. He signed on with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders but was once again a final training camp cut. Childress is now back in Ohio, employed as a State Farm insurance agent.

Bam Childress

 

Other notable NFL players born today include:
Jimmy Johnson (79), 3/31/1938 – Not as well known as either the coach-turned-broadcaster or race car driver, this Jimmy Johnson was a five-time Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame corner for San Francisco.
John Taylor (55), 3/31/1962 – caught Joe Montana’s 10-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds to play to cap a 20-16 Superbowl comeback victory over Cincinnati.
James Jones (33), 3/31/1984 – Packer wide receiver had 14 touchdown receptions in 2012, and had five 50+ reception seasons.
Mark Tuinei (3/31/1960-5/6/1999) – Left Tackle won three Superbowls with Dallas.
Ed Marinaro, 67 (3/31/1950) – Heisman Trophy runner-up from Cornell is more well known as Officer Joe Coffey on the 80’s television series Hill Street Blues.

 

New England Patriots History: Happy Birthday Charlie Weis

John Morgan
March 30, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

Today in New England Patriots history we say happy birthday to Charlie Weis. He was part of the Pats coaching staff for eight seasons. Weis earned three Super Bowl rings as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator for Super Bowls 36, 38 and 39. He won another ring as part of Bill Parcells’ staff when the Giants beat the Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl 25.

 

Charlie Weis, Patriot coach 1993-96 and 2000-04

Charlie Weis, 61 (3/30/1956)

Weis was a Patriot position coach for four years and offensive coordinator for five seasons. He owns four Superbowl rings and has 36 years of football coaching experience.

After 11 years of high school and college coaching, he joined Bill Parcells’ New York Giant coaching staff in 1990. After three years with the Giants he rejoined Parcells in 1993 in New England. In 1994 as TE coach Ben Coates was an All Pro with career highs of 96 receptions and 1174 yards receiving. The next season as RB coach rookie Curtis Martin rushed for 1487 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 1996 as WR coach rookie Terry Glenn had a career-high 90 receptions, and 1132 yards receiving.

Weis followed Parcells out of town the next year to work for the Jets. Bill Belichick added him to his newly formed staff in New England in 2000 as offensive coordinator. As the OC Weis had a critical role in Tom Brady’s first NFL season as starting quarterback. That 2001 season of course culminated in the first of five (and counting) Patriot Superbowl victories. His neophyte quarterback went on to become the best there ever was.

Charlie Weis

Not a flash in the pan, Weis earned two more rings in Super Bowls 38 and 39. He left New England to become head coach of Notre Dame in 2005. Later he was the OC for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010, OC for the Florida Gators in 2011, and head coach at Kansas from 2012-14. Though he may be bored now that he is no longer working, his family should be set for generations thanks to buyouts.

 

Dave Chapple – Punter, 1974

Dave Chapple, 70 (3/30/1947)
Uniform #10

Chapple was a productive punter and kicker at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1966 he kicked ten field goals, which would have been an NCAA record – but Jan Stenerud kicked 13 the same year. Chapple was an All-American and selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1969 draft. A slipped disc delayed his football career and he eventually signed with the Bills in 1971.

The following year Chapple joined the Rams and was named to the Pro Bowl, averaging 44.2 yards per punt. Perhaps even more impressive is that his net average was almost the same, 42.1 yards per punt. In one game at Soldier Field he averaged over 50 yards on his five punts.

Chapple’s punts started losing distance though, perhaps due to the bad back. He went from LA to New England in 1974. With the Patriots he averaged 35.4 yards on 26 punts, and did not play in the league again. In 40 NFL games he averaged 40.2 yards on his 162 punts.

Going back to his youth Chapple was very interested in painting. Over the last 40-plus years he has been an accomplished artist, particularly in oil paintings and sculptures.

Dave Chapple art

The Painting Punter

Dave Chapple – Island International Artists

 

Chris Canty – CB, 1997-98

Chris Canty, 41 (3/30/1976)
Uniform #26

In the first year of the Pete Carroll era the Patriots selected Canty with the 29th pick of the 1997 draft. That choice by Bobby Grier, with Bill Parcells no longer over his shoulder, would go down in infamy as one of the worst draft picks in the history of the franchise. Canty seemed to put more effort into his excessive celebrations over insignificant plays than in becoming a productive player. The Pats jettisoned Canty after just two seasons and he was out of the NFL two years later. He later spent four years playing Arena football.

Chris Canty

 

Notable NFL players born today include:
Lomas Brown (54), 7-time Detroit Lion Pro Bowl LT
Richard Sherman (29), Seahawks CB
Billy Cundiff (37), most well known for this kick:

 

Today in Pats History: Happy Birthday Chris Long

John Morgan
March 28, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

Happy Birthday to Chris Long, who headlines March 28 in New England Patriots’ history.

 

Chris Long, 32 (3/28/1985)
Patriot DE, 2016
Uniform #95

The Longs are one of the premier NFL football families. Chris’ father Howie is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his brother Kyle is a starting RG for the Bears. At Virginia Chris Long was a unanimous All-American and first team All-ACC. He was also the ACC Defensive Player of the Year, and won the Ted Hendricks Award for the nation’s best defensive end. The St. Louis Rams selected Long with the second overall pick of the 2008 draft.

Long was a steady starter on a solid Ram defense for several years. However he missed ten games in 2014 with an ankle injury and four more in 2015 due to a knee injury. Upon his return Jeff Fisher kept William Hayes as his starter, leaving Long as a situational reserve. The Rams had previously restructured Long’s contract which created a cap number of $14 million for 2016. Not surprisingly he was cut as one of several cap saving moves.

Long visited with Dallas, Washington and Atlanta, and then signed a one-year deal for $2 million with the Patriots on March 18, 2016. Having previously cashed in with two large contracts, Long was secure with leaving some money on the table in order to play for a Superbowl contender.

After eight years of wallowing in St. Louis Ram mediocrity, Long finally not only experienced a winning season but also the playoffs and a Superbowl victory. Though it did not show up in the stat sheet Long did have key plays in the improbable comeback victory over Atlanta. On one key play his bull rush over Jake Matthews applied pressure from the right, so Matt Ryan could not turn that way. This was on Dont’a Hightower’s oft-replayed strip sack and fumble recovered by Alan Branch. That play may have been a big reason why Long was able to draw Matthews into a holding penalty on the subsequent drive. That flag resulted in a loss of ten yards and kept Atlanta out of field goal range. It was one of several plays that was the difference between a Superbowl win or loss.

Long played in every Pats game in 2016, with seven starts. However his playing time decreased as the season progressed. In the first eight games Long was in for about 70% of the defensive plays, averaging 49 snaps per game. Down the stretch that dropped to just over 50%, averaging 34 snaps in the final six games of the regular season. In the playoffs Long had 27 snaps versus Houston, 20 plays (29%) against Pittsburgh and then only 15 snaps in the Superbowl. With that in mind it is understandable that he has elected to explore other options in free agency. Long finished the season with 35 combined tackles (22 solo), four sacks, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. Despite his short time in Foxboro all of Patriot Nation is grateful for his hard work and contribution.

Off the field the Chris Long Foundation’s signature project is The Waterboys. It unites NFL players and fans to raise awareness and funds with a goal to install 32 deep borehole wells in East Africa. Each well costs $45,000 and serves up to 7,500 people.

3/28 12:05 pm update: Long has reportedly signed a contract with the Philadelphia Eagles.

 

Reche Caldwell – Patriot WR, 2006

Reche Caldwell, 38 (3/28/1979)
Uniform #87

Like many pro athletes, Caldwell excelled in multiple sports as a youth. In high school he threw 77 touchdown passes and also set several school records in baseball. He was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1998 but opted to play football instead. Caldwell stayed in state and went to the University of Florida. There he played for Steve Spurrier at the end of the Fun-n-Gun era. On offense he played alongside future NFL players such as Rex Grossman, Jabar Gaffney and Earnest Graham.

Caldwell finished his junior year with 65 receptions for 1,059 yards and ten touchdowns. San Diego then selected him in the second round of the 2002 draft, 48th overall. He spent four years with the Chargers, never quite living up to his draft status. Over that span Caldwell had 76 catches for 950 yards and seven touchdowns.

Following the 2005 season Patriot free agent David Givens signed with Tennessee. Troy Brown would soon turn 35. Depth at the wide receiver position needed to be replenished, and the Pats signed UFA Caldwell. At the same time Deion Branch was in the last year of his rookie contract. He held out and was eventually traded after lengthy and bitter negotiations. Rookie Chad Jackson injured his hamstring in training camp. Rather than being a third or fourth option at WR, Caldwell was suddenly by default forced to be the primary receiver.

In that 2006 season Caldwell had 61 receptions (on 101 targets) for 760 yards and four touchdowns. The playoffs started well as he caught 12 of the 15 passes thrown his way over two games, for 130 yards. That included a TD against his old team in a 24-21 victory at San Diego.

2006 AFCCG at Indianapolis

Reche Caldwell Eyes

Caldwell was targeted nine times against Indy, catching just four passes. At one point Caldwell muffed a perfectly thrown pass in the corner of the end zone. Then with under ten minutes to go and the score tied, Caldwell was left uncovered on a botched Colt defensive assignment. Brady threw to Caldwell for what should have been an easy catch and an 18 yard waltz into the end zone. Caldwell became overanxious and turned too soon – even though no defender was remotely close to him – and dropped the ball. Two plays later he was unable to catch another pass and the Patriots had to settle for a field goal. The Colts came back to win the AFCCG 38-34. The NFC was weak that year; the winner of that game was the defacto Superbowl champion. It was a huge missed opportunity for the Patriots.

Bill Belichick retooled his offense the following season with the additions of Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Caldwell was cut on September 3, 2007 and spent one final NFL season with Washington. His post-NFL career did not go well.

Caldwell returned to his old Tampa neighborhood and opened up a gambling parlor. His problem was that it was successful, and he never considered that perhaps he should keep a low profile. After the inevitable arrest for bookmaking and running a gambling house, Caldwell posted bond. He kept hanging out with his old crew and saw how popular Ecstasy was at the clubs. Caldwell made the absurdly foolish decision to buy some Molly over the internet as his next business venture. That resulted in a 27-month prison sentence.

How Reche Caldwell Googled his way from the Patriots to prison | ABC News

 

Greg ‘Truck’ Moore – Patriot LB, 1987

Greg Moore, 52 (3/28/1965)
Uniform #54

The 6’1, 240 lb linebacker went to college at Tennessee-Chattanooga. He was one of the replacement players in 1987 when the NFLPA went on strike. Moore started in all three of those replacement games, with one fumble recovery.

With his brief NFL career over, Moore returned to his native Georgia. He is the owner of Elite Realty Specialists.

Greg Moore

 

Bryan Wagner – Patriot P, 1991 and 1995

Bryan Wagner, 55 (3/28/1962)
Uniform #8 and #9

Wagner was with five different teams over nine season in the NFL. With the Browns in 1997 he led the league in number of punts with 97; the following season he led the NFL with four punts blocked. He signed with the Patriots in 1991 but was released after three games. Wagner was averaging a mere 29.1 net yards on his 14 punts.

The Patriots re-signed him in 1995. He punted 37 times over eight games, with a carer-high 42.1 yards per punt. He now teaches phys ed and is a high school football coach in Ohio.

1/12/1986: Bryan Wagner Is Alive and Hopes to Be Kicking in the NFL

1/25/1995: Super Bowl XXIX : Persistence Lands Him on His Feet

5/31/2005: Ex-punter lands coaching job

 

Steve Doig – Patriot LB, 1986-87

Steve Doig, 57 (3/28/1960)
Uniform #59

Doig is a New England native. He was born in Melrose, played hockey at North Reading High School and went to the University of New Hampshire. At UNH he was the ECAC player of the year. Detroit selected Doig in the third round of the 1982 draft, 69th overall. Over three seasons with the Lions he appeared in 34 games with four starts.

The Patriots signed Doig in 1986, after he had not played at all the previous season. He played in five games for the Pats in ’86, and one more in 1987. Doig also appeared in the playoff loss to Denver following the 1986 season. The Pats waived Doig on September 8, 1987.

Doig’s biggest highlight came in the last game played at the Orange Bowl. In the ’86 season finale Doig recovered a fumbled kickoff to give the Patriots the ball at the Miami 24. On the next play Craig James fumbled the ball away, and Tony Eason injured his shoulder making the tackle. Steve Grogan replaced Eason and later threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Stanley Morgan with 44 seconds remaining. That gave the Patriots a 34-27 victory, and the AFC East title.

 

Lonnie Farmer – Patriot LB, 1964-66

Lonnie Farmer, 77 (3/28/1940)
Uniform #55

Farmer played in 31 games over three seasons for the Pats, but his carer was cut short by a knee injury. This is from the 1966 Patriots Media Guide:

This rebel belter from Lookout Mountain, Tenn., enters his third pro season with best prospects ever … lost last season with a knee injury … otherwise would have been a regular … is one of the surest, toughest tacklers on Patriots team … is one of Coach Holovak’s best on the suicide squad … was brought to Boston’s pros by fellow Chattanooga alumnus Charley Long … was Williamson All-American and AP second team All-American in ’63 … has a real taste for action … intense competitor … injury free season could give Lonnie a shot at All-Star honors.

Lonnie Farmer
Left to right: defensive tackle Jim Lee Hunt, safety Ron Hall, and linebacker Lonnie Farmer.

 

Other NFL notables born on March 28 include:
Geno Atkins (29), five-time Pro Bowl DT for Cincinnati Bengals.
NaVorro Bowman (29), four-time All Pro LB for San Francisco 49ers.
Derek Carr (26), two-time Pro Bowl QB for the Oakland  Las Vegas Raiders.
Jim Turner (76), AFL-AFC kicker for the Jets and Broncos

 

There is only one March 29 Patriot birthday, so I will insert it here.

Chris Calloway – Patriot WR, 2000

Chris Calloway, 49 (3/29/1968)
Uniform #82

Calloway is most well known for seven years with the Giants. He was their leading receiver for four straight years. Calloway had receptions in a team record 47 straight games, and at the time he ranked third in franchise history with 334 receptions. He was originally drafted by Pittsburgh in 1990, but only spent two seasons with the Steelers.

In 1999 the Giants released Calloway, attempting to get younger and also save money. Calloway signed a $4 million contract with Atlanta, which was very big money at that time. He caught only 22 passes and the Falcons let him go after one season.

During training camp in 2000 Bill Belichick axed Vincent Brisby and signed Calloway. By that time though he was 32 and his best days were behind him. Calloway appeared in seven games with two starts for New England. He had only five receptions for 95 yards while with the Patriots. The Pats cut him on October 21, 2000. Calloway finished his NFL career with 386 receptions for 5497 yards and 30 touchdowns.

11/28/2009: Former New York Giants wide receiver Chris Calloway trying to hang on

Chris Calloway

 

Other NFL notables born on March 29 include:
Earl Campbell (62), Houston Oiler Hall of Fame running back.
Ryan Kalil (32), Carolina Panther five time Pro Bowl center.
Justin Tuck (34), two time Pro Bowl defensive end.