The Rise and Fall of the “Bay State” Patriots

Written By:  •  Tuesday, February 21, 2012

When one invokes the team name, “Patriots”, it’s easy to play the association game; Brady to Welker, Victor Kiam’s razors, and even a quiet Randy Moss. They’ve been the Boston Patriots and the New England Patriots but did you know that there was a THIRD team name? While you wrack your brains, let’s take a short walk down a long Memory Lane…

The team Howard Cosell loved to hate had plenty going on both on and off the field; of course, they’re just the second team to win three championships in four years, posess the best record during any one decade, and who could forget that 21-game winning streak in 2003/04?

The Patriots were a laughingstock for a time, too, having let Jim Plunkett walk (all he did was win two more Super Bowls) and enduring flops like Joe Kapp, Mike Taliaferro and Phil Olsen (Bonus points if you own any cards with those names on them)

The knock on ALL the New England teams was simple; good during the regular season, but they’d choke faster than a 80-pound grandpa at an all-you-could-eat peanut-butter buffet when they even SNIFFED a trophy – including one 51-10 pasting by my San Diego Chargers and the 1985 Chicago Spanking (Bears 46, Patriots 10).

I remember watching one rainy Sunday Patriot game where the fights in the stands were just EPIC, the game announcers closely imitating those at the loss of the Hindenburg – oh, the humanity – and thinking, “The fights are more interesting to watch than this team”

When you look at the Patriots’ logos, they reflect the team’s fortunes, don’t they? There have been a few different incarnations, but there were, really, only 3 main logos. When “Battlin’ Billy” Sullivan managed to grab the very last AFL franchise up for grabs, he put the team moniker up for grabs – “Let the fans decide! It’s their team.” Bahstonians overwhelmingly chose the “Patriots”.

The team started out, first, with a simple Patriot three-cornered hat;


Then, in 1961, after Boston Globe artist Phil Bissell put pen to paper, “Pat Patriot” was born. He went through a few cleanups and incarnations along the way, but stayed more or less like this through 1992.

Okay, we all recognize Pat – and the lack of success that went along with him.

Of course, you also know the more streamlined version, brought on in time for Parcells in 1993, but largely owned by Brady – it’s a beauty, whether you cheer for the team or not. (Some disagree, of course, calling the current art “The Flying Elvis”, but I like it.)

So, you know all that. No surprises there. Good for you, logo fans.

Did you know, though that the Patriots were nearly named the Bay State Patriots?

Thaaaaat’s right folks, “MAKE SOME NOISE FOR YOUR B.S. PATRIOTS!!!”

It’s true, it’s true.  In 1971, Billy Sullivan, ticked at the city of Boston because they wouldn’t let him build downtown, moved the Pats out to Foxborough’s Schaefer Stadium (later to be renamed Foxboro Stadium) which actually came in under budget and on time – the only thing, to date, that had gone right for the team.  Incidentally, as this clipping shows, they couldn’t even get it right in the front office, mailing the Bay State press release in a BOSTON PATRIOTS envelope!

“Everybody was making jokes about us,” said former GM Upton Bell. “Trouble was, there was a board of directors and you had to convince ‘the mob.’ There were 32 of them.”

Finally, remembers son Pat Sullivan, “someone said Dad did it because our home was on Bay State Road in Wellesley. That did it. Dad said he wouldn’t put up with that.”

Thankfully, he was convinced back to sanity by the NFL, and, on March 22, 1971, the New England Patriots (see? simple works) were born.

Incidentally, “The Bay State Patriot” is now the name of the newsletter from the Massachussets Department of Veterans’ Services. It’s nice to find nearly-irrelevant little tidbits while doing research.

This is hardly the first time that owners have messed with perfectly good products; Blue Jay, Marlin, Padre, Warrior, Trail Blazer, Red Sox, Brown, Buccaneer and (especially) Islander fans know all too well the abject misery of multiple bad moniker switches; I have one NYI fan friend who, when confronted with Captain Highliner, looked sadly at the newest offering and moaned, “Do I REALLY have to wear this?”

That’s the good news, sports fans. Even IF your current owner loses his marbles (I’m looking at you, H. Wayne Huizenga), someone will be along eventually to return your club – and its’ duds – to some semblance of normalcy – and pride… except those poor Islander fans, of course.

Hang in there, guys. Maybe the ghost of Pat Patriot will ride to the rescue.



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Mark Dewdney

Mark is an avid husband/father/sports fan/actor/umpire residing in the Greater Toronto Area. When he's not calling balls-and-strikes he's covering the NFL beat for SportsLogos.Net. You can follow Mark on Twitter at @markdewdney or check out his website at markdewdney.com