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Once called the Boston Patriots of the American Football League, now the New England Patriots of the NFL, the team has a history of ineptitude--once they were the Bay State (B.S.) Patriots. This tedious season-by-season chronicle is more about conflicts in board rooms and locker rooms than on football fields. In 1960, founder Bill Sullivan had no stadium and too little money, and so he was forced to take on partners. They ultimately tried to oust ""The Sullivan,"" as he is called, but he was able to come back with the help of his cronies among the NFL owners. In time, Coach Chuck Fairbanks made the team a Super Bowl contender, but when he was offered a bonanza by the University of Colorado, Sullivan forced Fairbanks to choose at once between the two jobs--and, for whatever reason, New England never got to the Super Bowl. Any continuity the book has comes from Sullivan's character and caprices. He hired coaches who were unstable and paranoid--Clive Rush appears as the Captain Queeg of football. General manager Upton Bell alineated coach John Mazur by threatening him with firing and he infuriated Sullivan by usurping the right to fire Mazur at all. The players assembled by this chaotic management roll through the book with little definition. Gino Cappeletti and Babe Parilli figure prominently, and the tragic injury of Darryl Stingley is recounted at great and sentimental length. But when Fox introduces the bitter contract disputes of Leon Gray and John Hannah, we suddenly hear, with no elaboration, that there were ""militants"" on the team. Since the Patriots have had few great players and no dramatic success (unlike the Jets in '69), their story lacks focus. Fox makes a molehill out of a pebble.

Pub Date: Oct. 19th, 1979
Publisher: Atheneum