With the NFL recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the AFL this season, the teams will all be wearing their “throwback uniforms” and giving the younger fans a chance to see what it was like watching the game in an earlier time.
With that thought in mind, we are bringing you the 50th Anniversary New England Patriots team. With many players to choose from through the different eras, it’s easy to debate the merits of one to another. While I personally don’t remember the start of the franchise in 1960, I have been going to the games since the Fenway Park days of ’67. Yes … those days. It wasn’t always fun, but it was always entertaining being a Pats fan back then.
1. Tom Brady – No brainer here, Brady has brought the franchise its 3 Super Bowl wins while rewriting the record book during the 2007 season, 50TDs, with only 8 INTs and 4806 yds passing. With 28 game winning drives in the 4th Qtr in his career, and 2 SB MVPs on his resume. Nuff said
2. Drew Bledsoe – Gave the team and the franchise the face it was missing to rally from the horrible years of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. Threw for nearly 30,000 yds in his Pats career. Led the team to SB XXXI.
3. (Honorable Mention) Vito “Babe Parilli- How can a team from the Northeast, not love a QB named Vito? Held the team’s TD record (31) until 2007. Named to 3 AFL All-Star teams and ALL-AFL 10 Year Anniversary Team in 1971.
- 1. Jim Nance – Still the one against all Pats RBs are measured. In 1966 he led the AFL in rushing with 1458 yds, the only time in its history that a runner eclipsed 1400 yards rushing. He also won the league’s MVP that year and his 104.1 yards per game average is still the team’s record, 43 years and counting. 45 career rushing TDs is still a franchise record.
- 2. Sam Cunningham – Sam “Bam” Cunningham still owns the franchise record for career rushing with 5453 yards rushing with 43 TDs
- 3. (Honorable Mention) Tony Collins – Third in franchise history with 4647 yards rushing and 32 TDs. Played on the Pats team that went to SB XX.
BLOCKING BACK/3rd DOWN BACK
- 1. Kevin Faulk – Faulk has done everything in his Patriots career, blocked in the backfield for the passing game, ran effectively as a RB and has been a consistent deadly option for Tom Brady out of the backfield.
- 2. Sam Gash – Gash was a crushing blocker as a FB, who could pick up valuable first downs in short yardage.
- 3. (Honorable Mention) Andy Johnson – Johnson was a fixture on the teams in the mid to late ‘70s, was a good runner, was an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield and could throw the occasional TD pass.
- 1. Stanley Morgan – Stanley the Steamer was a guy who could absolutely fly. He’s still probably the fastest WR ever on the Patriots. His curse was he played in an era where the Pats were a running team. Played 13 seasons, still the teams career leader in TD receptions with 67. Of the 18 WRs in the NFL Hall of Fame only 1 has a higher career average yards per catch than his 19.4. Averaged over 20 yds per catch for 5 straight years during 1977-1981.
2. Randy Moss – Moss has only played 2 seasons with the Patriots but has completely changed the way the team operates. In 2007, his 23 receiving TDs set the new NFL record. And his 1493 receiving yards broke Stanley Morgan’s record of 1491.
3. (Honorable Mention) Gino Cappeletti
1. Troy Brown – Mr. Patriot, Brown was blessed with neither great size, nor great speed but a huge heart and a great knowledge of the game. He could play split wide or in the slot, run back kicks, punts play special teams and play defensive back. Consummate professional, his 101 receptions in 2001 were the team record until 2007.
2. Wes Welker – Unheralded slot receiver and special teams guy until he gets traded from Miami and teams up with Moss and Brady. 112 receptions in 2007, 111 receptions in 2008 with Matt Cassel. Fearless over the middle, was knocked out cold in the game against Pittsburgh last season. Naysayers said he’d be out for awhile and wouldn’t go back across the middle, the next week against Seattle, has his biggest game of the season with 12 receptions and 134 yards.
3. (Honorable mention) Terry Glenn
1. Russ Francis – One of the top TEs of his era, he and Dave Casper of the Raiders redefined the position, making the TE a deep threat in the passing game. Was an excellent receiver with WR speed, a tenacious blocker as well. Played in the running game era with the Pats so his numbers aren’t huge. Modern day Renaissance Man, not only an excellent football player, but world class surfer and sky-diver as well. Even wrestled professionally in the off-season.
2. Ben Coates- Was the lifeline for Drew Bledsoe at the TE position. Led the team in receiving 5 out of 6 seasons. Huge favorite in the Red Zone. Just as effective moving the chains or going deep. 490 career receptions, 50 TDs.
3. (Honorable Mention) Marv Cook
1. Jon Morris- Played in the Patriots early years. Excellent all-around center and great run blocker. Seven time Pro- Bowl selection.
2. Pete Brock – Played from 1976 -1987 from the Chuck Fairbanks years thru the SB in ’85. Excellent run and pass blocker, tough, durable.
3. (Honorable Mention) Damien Woody
1. John Hannah – Pro Football Hall of Fame Inductee 1991, Nine Pro-Bowls, Ten consecutive All-Pro selections. Named to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team. Played 13 seasons and missed only 5 due to injury. Anchored the OL that set the record for most rushing yards in a season (3165) that has stood for 31 years, without 1 RB with over 800 yds.The best guard in the history of the game.
2. Sam Adams – Played nine years 72-80, 119 career games with 90 starts. Was overshadowed by playing alongside Hannah for many years.
3. (Honorable Mention) Len St. Jean, Logan Mankins
- 1. Bruce Armstrong – Six All-Pro selections, played for the Patriots 90-91, 94-97. Solid, physical and was the anchor of the line.
- 2. Tom Neville- Played for the Patriots from 1965- 77. Selected to 2 Pro-Bowls, played in 160 games with 114 starts.
- 3. (Honorable Mention) Matt Light, Leon Gray
DEFENSIVE END (2)
1. Julius Adams – Big #85, Julius excelled in three different stints with the Patriots 1971-77, 79-85, 87. Total of 206 games played as a member of the Patriots, Pro-Bowl 1980.
2. Willie McGinest – Big playmaker out of USC, 10 years a valued member of the defense always played his best in the big games.
3. (Honorable Mention) Richard Seymour, Bob Dee
DEFENSIVE TACKLE (2)
1. Houston Antwine – Played eleven seasons for the Patriots, 1961-71. Selected to six Pro-Bowls. Member of the Patriots 35th Anniversary team.
2. Jim Lee Hunt – Played twelve seasons for the Patriots, 1960-71. Selected to four Pro-Bowls. Also a member for the Patriots 35th Anniversary Team.
3. (Honorable Mention) Ray “Sugar Bear”Hamilton, Dave Rowe
OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (2)
1. Andre Tippett- Pro Football Hall of Fame 2008, 100 career sacks, his two year total of 35 (1983-84) still ranks as the highest two year total from any LB in NFL History. Played in the era of Lawrence Taylor and was overshadowed by him. The player arguably until Tom Brady came along to ever play for the Patriots. Member of the NFL’s 1980’s All-Decade team. NFL Player’s Assn. LB of the Year 1985-1987. Played Strongside LB, a position where no one has approached his sack totals.
2. Mike Vrabel- Member of 3 Super Bowl teams (2001,03-04), was the most versatile member of the defense, nicknamed “Swiss Army Knife” by the coaches and players. Could rush the passer, drop back into coverage, stuff the run. Was used as a TE in the Red Zone. Caught 10 passes all for TDs including 2 in the Super Bowl.
3. (Honorable Mention) Don Blackmon, Vincent Brown
INSIDE LINEBACKER (2)
- 1. Steve Nelson – Spent his entire 14 seasons with the Patriots. Played in 174 games, great stopper. Led team in tackling in 8 of his 14 years. His 207 tackles in 1984 remains the team record. Patriots Hall of Fame selection, nine years with over 100 tackles, finished his career with 1776 (nice Patriotic number) tackles 10.2 per game. Named to the Patriots 35th Anniversay Team and Patriots Team of the Century in 2000. Also named to 3 Pro-Bowls
2. Tedy Bruschi – Spent his entire career 1996- present with the Patriots. Has anchored the ILB and has always played best in the big games. Selected to the Pro-Bowl in 2004.
3. (Honorable Mention) Ted Johnson, Lawrence McGrew
- 1. Michael Haynes – Member of the Pro-Football Hall of Fame, played 14 seasons, 7 as a member of the Patriots 46 career INTs.
- 2. Ty Law- Member of three Super Bowl Championship Teams (2001,03-04) was the shutdown corner who anchored the secondary. Selected to 4 Pro-Bowls 3. (Honorable Mention) Raymond Clayborn, Maurice Hurst
1. Fred Marion – Played FS for ten years 1982 -91 for the Patriots, playing in 144 games. Selected to the Pro-Bowl in 1985.
2. Rodney Harrison – Played for the Patriots for 6 seasons, 2003-2008. Inspirational leader of the defense, fearsome hitter. Only player in NFL history with over 30 sacks and 30 INTs.
3. (Honorable Mention) Tim Fox, Lawyer Milloy
- 1. (Tie) Adam Vinatieri, Gino Cappeletti – Vinatieri is already famous for his winning kicks in Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII but his kick a 48 yd FG in a driving blizzard against the Raiders in the playoffs of 2001 may just be the most clutch kick in NFL History.
Cappaletti played his entire eleven career with the Patriots. Played in every game in AFL History. Five time AFL all star, MVP in the AFL in 1964. Is second on the Patriots all-time scoring list and sixth all-time receiving.
1. Rich Camarillo – Played 1981-87 for the Patriots. Holds the career lead with most Punts (468) and most yardage punting (19,922)
SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER
1. Mosi Tatupu – Mosi played thirteen seasons with the Patriots 1978-90, played in 194 games. Excellent special teams player and short yardage FB. Selected to the 1986 Pro-Bowl team for ST play