Pat Patriot: What's Old Is New

Terry RobinsonSenior Analyst IAugust 4, 2009

Wow, how scary is this guy?


For years, Pat Patriot was like the kid on the playground who wore thick glasses, picked his nose, and dressed funny.

The other kids made fun of him and beat him up.

As fans, we endured it because we figured a team representing New England probably should have a cartoon logo of a deranged Paul Revere, set to snap the ball.

Deranged Patriotism was the general idea, after all. Besides, he had that quaint charm going for him.

And, good fans that we were, after every disappointing campaign, we said, Man, those guys aren't going to steal our lunch money tomorrow. We're gonna get 'em.

But when you're watching your team play against guys with stars and horns and lightning bolts and birds of prey on their helmets, and your team is dressed funny, it's hard not to wonder: Are they taking us seriously at all?

Look, I know there are those in Patriot Nation who actually like Pat. In fact, I read something about a Boston Globe survey last winter that showed that fans actually preferred Old Pat to Flying Elvis.

With all due respect to other people's opinions, not to mention the remarkable talent of New England sports cartoonist Phil Bissell, the artist who created Pat Patriot, I think some fans have short memories.

To be fair, I have to say that Pat served his purpose back in the day. He was probably the most artistically intricate logo in the AFL or NFL, which has to count for something. 

And Pat had been good enough to replace the original logo, an unrecognizable representation of a tricorner hat, which lasted less than one AFL season.

So the Bissell creation, Pat Patriot, held the job from 1961-1992.

But for as long as I can remember, there was talk among fans about how the logo measured up to others around the league. 

By the late 1980s, the organization had caught on and began to search for a modern, more streamlined image.

Pat Patriot's day had passed.

There were many ideas presented before someone finally came up with the original version of the Flying Elvis. He debuted in 1992, wearing a Flying tricorner of bright blue and red. And oh yeah, a silver face.

In 2000—now this is the key—the decision was made to switch to somewhat deeper shades of blue and red.

The new logo took some getting used to, but hey, welcome to the 21st century.

More to the point, welcome to a winning tradition.

The kid got contacts, stopped picking his nose, and started buying his own clothes. He bought himself a Harley and a 12-gauge and left the playground bullies in a cloud of dust.

I like seeing my team taken seriously.

And I like watching the playground bullies pick their noses.

Since the introduction of the first Flying Elvis, the Patriots are batting over .600 in regular season games and have won their division seven times.

They have gone to six AFC championship games, winning five of them.

They have won three Super Bowls, making millions of fans happy and totally pissing off many more millions of others.

Their quarterback holds the single-season records for touchdown passes and total yards.

Their star wide receiver holds the single season record for touchdown receptions.

Their erstwhile kick returner holds the record for longest return in NFL history.

They posted the only undefeated regular season in the 16-game era.

All that and more in just 16 years, people.

Last season, the playground bullies exacted some revenge by knocking out our MVP quarterback and kicking enough dirt in Flying Elvis' face to keep him out of the playoffs.

Many of us felt like aiming that 12-gauge at our televisions.

Now, I'm a superstitious sort. I am convinced, for example, that the Patriots lost Super Bowl XLII because I was a few minutes late getting my dog's jersey on her that day.

And I might have been wearing the wrong socks. I'm not sure.

But when I read about the "legacy" games coming up this season, I relinquished all responsibility for the consequences.

Do you see where this is headed?

During Pat Patriot's AFL and NFL years combined, the team had a winning percentage just over 42 percent. They went to the playoffs a total of seven times, including their years as the Boston Patriots of the AFL.

In the NFL era, they won their division three times and went to one Super Bowl, where they got their butts handed to them by a Chicago team that was one of the greatest ever.

Did I mention that it was the worst shellacking in SB history at the time? Ouch.

These dubious achievements required over 30 years.

This 50th anniversary thing is cool and all, but I don't think the Patriots need to be playing their first game of the season wearing Pat Patriot helmets.

Let's face it, the Patriots' old look was bad luck. Nothing good ever happens to the kid who dresses funny.

The new look, well, it speaks for itself.

As it is, Tom Brady will be trotting onto the field at The Razor on September 14 for game one against the Bills, wearing a white helmet adorned with, yup, a deranged Paul Revere cartoon.

For their part, the Bills won't look much better in their throwbacks, but I'm not sure the same stigma applies.

Incidentally, I have to chuckle every time I think about TO in throwback Bills gear. I just hope I'm still chuckling at the end of the game.

In game five this season, Pat Patriot again will be pulled out of the mothballs at Denver. The Broncos also will be wearing ludicrous uniforms, but I don't care.

The following week the Patriots will host the Titans, who will be disguised as the Oilers, and all I can say is that I'm glad Earl Campbell retired a long time ago.

Finally, in game thirteen, it's off to Miami for Pat Patriot. Enough said.

I'm struggling with this.

This is a pivotal time in Patriots history, and the last thing we need is the ghost of Patriots past hovering over Foxborough. And Denver. And Miami.

I know that this is something I am just going to have to learn to live with. Everything will be fine, I'm sure. Pat Patriot is my friend. Superstition is nonsense.

But I certainly am glad these important anniversaries don't roll around often.

Excuse me while I put my dog in her jersey.

This article and others can also be found at Boston Sports Then and Now






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