20 Super Facts About the New England Patriots

Adam Glanzman, Getty Images
Adam Glanzman, Getty Images

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, there’s no denying that the New England Patriots have forged a football dynasty of historic proportions. This team just clinched its record-breaking tenth Super Bowl berth and its eighth in the past 17 years. Here’s some fun trivia worth memorizing before they take on Philly (again) on Super Bowl Sunday.

1. THEY WEREN'T THE FIRST PRO FOOTBALL TEAM TO REPRESENT BOSTON.

Massachusetts began flirting with pro football long before the New England Patriots came along. The Boston Bulldogs were created and dismantled in 1929. The Boston Redskins (originally the Braves) came next in 1932, but, after five years, they relocated to Washington, D.C.

2. THEY WERE FOUNDED AS THE "BOSTON PATRIOTS."

The Patriots organization began as the “Boston Patriots," and they were founded as part of the American Football League on November 16, 1959.

3. THEY WON THE AFL'S VERY FIRST PRE-SEASON GAME.

On July 30, 1960, the Patriots won the upstart American Football League’s very first pre-season game by toppling the Buffalo Bills 28-7.

4. A TRI-CORNER HAT USED TO ADORN THEIR HELMETS.

Modern Patriots may wear that star-spangled “Flying Elvis” logo, but their forebears spent the 1960 season rocking a much simpler helmet design—one which consisted of a tri-corner hat sitting atop each player’s number.

5. THEY MOVED A LOT DURING THE 1960S.

Wide receiver Stanley Morgan of the New England Patriots runs down the field during a game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago Illinois. The Patriots won the game 27 - 7
Getty Images

Between 1960 and 1971, the Patriots changed venues four times. Nickerson Field, Fenway Park, Harvard Stadium, and Boston College’s Alumni Stadium all took turns hosting the team during that stretch.

6. IN 1970, A FIRE BROKE OUT IN THE STANDS.

In 1970, the Patriots's final game at Alumni Stadium was interrupted when a popcorn machine beneath the bleachers caught fire, scattering a large section of the crowd. "Fortunately, nobody was hurt," said radio announcer Gil Santos, "and it wasn't a huge section of seats that were burned. After the fire was out, everybody found a seat, and the game continued. Popcorn sales, of course, went down."

7. THEY WERE GOING TO BE CALLED THE BAY STATE PATRIOTS, BUT THERE WAS A SLIGHT PROBLEM.

Upon leaving for Foxborough, Massachusetts in 1971, the team was set to be rechristened “The Bay State Patriots.” The name was rejected when people pointed out the abbreviation would be “The B.S. Patriots.”

8. IN THE EARLY YEARS, THEIR STADIUM HAD SOME TOILET PROBLEMS.

Schaefer Stadium (a.k.a. Foxboro Stadium) wasn’t exactly Buckingham Palace. In 1971, the Pats's longtime residence just barely passed a mandatory “flush-off” test—wherein health inspectors flushed every single on-property toilet simultaneously. The test was ordered after hasty repairs were made when it was discovered that the plumbing was insufficiently prepared.

9. A SNOW PLOW OPERATOR BECAME A SPORTS HERO IN 1982. 

On a harsh, wintry day in 1982, snowplow operator Mark Henderson became a New England folk hero when he cleared a patch of field for Patriots kicker John Smith, whose late field goal slew the visiting Miami Dolphins. Incidentally, at the time, Henderson was there on work release from prison.

10. THE 1985 PATRIOTS WERE IMPROBABLE AFC CHAMPS.

Quarterback Jim McMahon #9 of the Chicago Bears runs for a touchdown as Don Blackmon #55 and Raymond Clayborn #26 of the New England Patriots try to hold him during Super Bowl XX at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on January 26, 1986
Mike Powell, Getty Images

The franchise secured its first-ever Super Bowl appearance in the 1985 NFL playoffs. New England had squeaked into the post-season as an 11-5 wild card squad. Then, the Pats became the first team in league history to reach the Super Bowl by winning three playoff games on the road. Unfortunately, their opponents in Super Bowl XX were Mike Ditka’s shufflin’ Chicago Bears, who crushed the Pats 46-10.

11. THEY ALMOST MOVED TO ST. LOUIS.

When Missouri native James Orthwein bought the Pats in 1992, he had a single goal in mind: shipping them off to St. Louis. However, at the time, Foxboro Stadium was owned by Robert Kraft, who effectively nixed the idea and purchased Orthwein’s franchise two years later.

12. THEY ALMOST GOT SHIPPED OFF TO CONNECTICUT, TOO.

New England escaped relocation again in 1998. Businessmen from Hartford, Connecticut, attempted to lure Kraft's Pats out of Massachusetts by offering a brand-new, publicly financed stadium. This blockbuster deal fell through when Kraft managed to secure $72 million from the Bay State, with which he eventually constructed Gillette Stadium—the squad's current home.

13. TOM BRADY'S COLLEGE CAREER DIDN'T PORTEND HIS SUPERSTAR STATUS.


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He may be a future Hall of Famer, but during his collegiate days, nobody would’ve mistaken Patriots QB Tom Brady for a big-shot. At one point, Brady was the seventh quarterback on the University of Michigan’s depth chart.

14. BRADY COULD HAVE PLAYED PRO BASEBALL INSTEAD.

Speaking of Brady: the Montreal Expos drafted him as a catcher in 1995. (He didn't play.)

15. THEY'VE GOT THE LONGEST WINNING STREAK IN PRO FOOTBALL HISTORY.

The franchise claimed 21-straight regular and postseason wins from 2003-2004, an NFL record.

16. IT TOOK NEARLY 30 MINUTES FOR EITHER TEAM TO SCORE IN SUPER BOWL XXXVIII.

New England Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch (L) breaks away from Terry Cousins (R) of the Carolina Panthers in the first quarter of Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium 01 February 2004 in Houston, TX
TIMOTHY A. CLARY, AFP, Getty Images

Though the Pats eventually prevailed over Carolina in Super Bowl XXXVIII, viewers had to wait 26 minutes and 55 seconds before either team scored. However, the teams scored 37 combined points in the fourth quarter, the most ever in a single quarter of a Super Bowl.

17. NEW ENGLAND SET ALL KINDS OF RECORDS IN THE 2017 SUPER BOWL.

After falling behind 28-3, the Pats scored 25 points to send the game into overtime. This is notable for three reasons: For starters, it was (numerically) the largest comeback in Super Bowl history. Also, no previous Super Bowl had ever gone into overtime. And finally, by beating the Falcons in OT, Brady earned his fifth Super Bowl championship—meaning he now has more of these than any other starting quarterback in league history.

18. VLADIMIR PUTIN MIGHT HAVE ONE OF ROBERT KRAFT'S CHAMPIONSHIP RINGS.


Getty Images

Vladimir Putin: jewelry thief? Kraft claims that, while visiting Russia, he had to bid one of his championship rings “dasvidanya.” Allegedly, President Putin had asked to hold it, remarking “I could kill someone with this ring.” Kraft complied, at which point the statesman pocketed the keepsake and left. Kraft later said it was a gift. Putin curiously said he has no memory of the event. “You know, I do not remember either Mr. Kraft or the ring," he told AFP. "They handed out some sorts of souvenirs."

19. GAME OF THRONES AUTHOR GEORGE R.R. MARTIN HAS COMPARED THEM TO ONE OF WESTEROS'S GREAT HOUSE.

The novelist and Giants/Jets fan says that, in his mind, the Patriots are the NFL’s Lannisters.

20. BILL BELICHICK BOUGHT A NEW BOAT AFTER WINNING SUPER BOWL XLIX.


Getty Images

Head coach Bill Belichick is an avid fisherman. He once owned a 24-foot power boat called V Rings. The name was a reference to the two Super Bowls he’d won as a defensive coordinator with the Giants and the first three he won with the Pats. In 2015, he got himself a new vessel after New England beat Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX. What’d he call it? VI Rings. Unconfirmed reports claim that Belichick has since rechristened the newer boat VII Rings to acknowledge his victory in Super Bowl LI in 2017. Shortly thereafter, Belichick donated the original V Rings boat to “Sail Newport,” a Rhode Island nonprofit. Will he ever get to name one of his nautical vehicles VIII Rings? Well, if things go his way on Sunday, the man just might.

Additional Sources: Then Belichick Said to Brady…: The Greatest New England Patriots Stories Ever Told, by Jim Donaldson
The Patriot Way: The History of the New England Patriots
Patriots.com

8 Surprising Facts and Misconceptions About Recycling

iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz
iStock.com/KatarzynaBialasiewicz

If you pat yourself on the back for just remembering to separate the recycling or haul that big blue bin to the curb each week, you're not alone. Despite the strides we appear to be making toward eco-consciousness as a country, we have a long way to go in helping the Earth, as evidenced by our complicated relationship with recycling. These facts about the most prevalent of the three Rs will make you pause the next time you throw anything away.

1. The United States's recycling rate is low—really low.

Figures from the Environmental Protection Agency show that America recycles about 34.7 percent of the garbage it produces. (The world's top recyclers—Germany, Austria, Wales, and South Korea—report a rate between 52 and 56 percent.) But Mitch Hedlund, founder and Executive Director of the organization Recycle Across America isn't even sure the recycling rate often quoted is accurate because there is so much junk mixed in with actual recyclables.

Recycle Across America is currently working to encourage the use of standardized labels for recycling bins to eliminate the confusion over what actually belongs in these receptacles. "If the U.S. gets the recycling number up to 75 percent, which we believe is completely possible once the confusion (over what to place in the bins) is removed, it will be the CO2 equivalent of removing 50 million cars from the roads each year in the U.S. and it will create 1.5 million permanent new jobs in the U.S. (net)."

2. Proper recycling can result in monetary savings.

Businessman stepping on green squares with recycling symbols
iStock.com/Rawpixel

While Hedlund admits the idea of providing universal labels clearly stating what should be placed in the bins is a simple one, it's making a serious impact on those who have jumped on the bandwagon. "Many schools are seeing dramatic increases in their recycling levels since using the society-wide standardized labels on their recycling bins," she says. "For instance, in the pilot program at Culver City schools in Los Angeles [County], their recycling levels doubled when they started using the standardized labels and the materials they were collecting in their recycling bins were so much less contaminated with garbage." Another story, she says, is that "as a result of a donation from Kiehls (who makes a donation to Recycle Across America each April in the sum of $50,000), all of the schools in the San Diego Unified School District and San Diego County started using the standardized labels. San Diego Unified School District reduced their landfill hauling fees by about $200,000 (net) in the first year."

3. Recent changes from China have severely impacted the recycling industry.

Until 2018, China took 40 percent of the United States's recycled paper, plastic, and metal. But in January of that year, China imposed strict new rules on the levels of contamination (think food or other garbage mixed in with the recyclables) it's willing to accept—standards American cities are largely unable to meet. Because of that, and a lack of suitable destinations closer to home, many cities have been forced to incinerate or stockpile recyclables until they can find a better solution.

4. Only 9 percent of plastic is recycled in the U.S.

The nation recycles less than 10 percent of its plastic, compared to 67 percent for paper materials, 34 percent for metals, and 26 percent for glass. And China's restrictions have especially affected plastic—while exports of scrap plastic to China were valued at more than $300 million in 2015, they amounted to $7.6 million in the first quarter of 2018, down 90 percent from the year before.

5. Clothing can be recycled, but it rarely is.

Clothing at a garage sale
iStock.com/alexeys

Unfortunately, most curbside haulers don't accept textiles, and America has a serious problem with old clothes ending up in the trash. In 2019, the nation is on track to throw away more than 35 billion pounds of textiles, according to the Council for Textile Recycling—almost double the number from 1999. On the plus side, some cities have set up drop-off points for unwanted clothes, and there are a variety of ways to sell or donate unwanted items. Some brands, including Eileen Fisher and Patagonia, have also introduced buy-back programs for their items.

6. Aluminum is the world's most-recycled packaging product.

Crushed aluminum cans
iStock.com/hroe

Nearly 70 percent of aluminum cans are recycled internationally, according to Novelis, a leader in rolled aluminum products and recycled aluminum. Aluminum is infinitely recyclable without degrading, meaning it can be reused in a way completely different from what it was in its previous life, or recast into its original form. Not only is aluminum the world's most-recycled product, it's also the most profitable and the most energy-efficient. Using recycled aluminum instead of virgin materials saves about 95% of the energy, compared to 60% for paper and 34% for glass [PDF].

7. That soda can you're drinking from could find its way back to you more quickly than you think.

According to Novelis's research, an aluminum can that is recycled can be back on a grocery store shelf within 60 days [PDF]. That's a seriously speedy turnaround.

8. Scrap recycling is big business.

While the words scrap recycling might have you humming the Sanford & Son theme song, it's far from being a junkyard industry. According to the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), in 2017 U.S. scrap recyclers processed more than 130 million tons of scrap metal, paper, plastic, glass, textiles, and more—material that was sold back to industrial consumers in the U.S. and around the world, generating close to $18 billion in export sales. All told, scrap recycling was a $117 billion industry in 2017 [PDF].

This list first ran in 2015 and was updated by Mental Floss staff in 2019.

From Cocaine to Chloroform: 28 Old-Timey Medical Cures

YouTube
YouTube

Is your asthma acting up? Try eating only boiled carrots for a fortnight. Or smoke a cigarette. Have you got a toothache? Electrotherapy might help (and could also take care of that pesky impotence problem). When it comes to our understanding of medicine and illnesses, we’ve come a long way in the past few centuries. Still, it’s always fascinating to take a look back into the past and remember a time when cocaine was a common way to treat everything from hay fever to hemorrhoids.

In this week's all-new edition of The List Show, Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy is highlighting all sorts of bizarre, old-timey medical cures. You can watch the full episode below.

For more episodes like this one, be sure to subscribe here.

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