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.


Getty Images

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 About Eddie Murphy

David Shankbone via Flickr // CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons
David Shankbone via Flickr // CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons

Few entertainers have enjoyed the kind of success comedian Eddie Murphy has had. Born in Brooklyn, New York on April 3, 1961, Murphy originally found fame on Saturday Night Live, then went on to dominate the box office throughout much of the 1980s with hits like 48 Hrs., Trading Places, Beverly Hills Cop I and II, The Golden Child, Eddie Murphy: Raw, and Coming to America, which went unrivaled in Hollywood. Switching from his trademark role of a streetwise, fast-talking fish out of water, Murphy moved on to a string of successful family comedies (The Nutty Professor, Doctor Dolittle) in the 1990s and beyond.

Having taken some time off following the lukewarm reception to Bruce Beresford's 2016 drama Mr. Church, in which Murphy starred, the 58-year-old is coming back into the spotlight with the Netflix biopic Dolemite Is My Name, a return to Saturday Night Live (on December 21), and a sequel to Coming to America (coming in December 2020). The actor also plans on a return to stand-up comedy after a 32-year hiatus. In the meantime, check out some lesser-known facts about Murphy’s life and career, including his plans for a cartoon series and an idea to cross paths with Crocodile Dundee.

1. Eddie Murphy wasn’t always live on Saturday Night Live.

Eddie Murphy stars in 'Dolemite Is My Name' (2019)
Eddie Murphy stars in Dolemite Is My Name (2019).
François Duhamel, Netflix

After enjoying success as a stand-up comedian, Murphy arrived on Saturday Night Live in 1980 at age 19, where he spent four seasons drawing renewed interest to the show that had once been declared “Saturday Night Dead” by critics following the departure of original cast members Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and John Belushi, and series creator Lorne Michaels. By the time Murphy was ready to depart the show in 1984 to pursue feature films—1982’s 48 Hrs. and 1983’s Trading Places had been hits—SNL's producers were so desperate to hold on to their star attraction that they offered Murphy a deal to essentially stick around for a portion of the 1983-1984 season. Murphy would appear live in studio in 10 of the 20 scheduled shows and tape 15 sketches that they could insert throughout the season.

“We basically just did a private show that was one Eddie sketch after another that we taped with a studio audience,” writer Pam Norris told Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller for their 2002 book, Live From New York: The Complete, Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live as Told by Its Stars, Writers, and Guests. “And then those were later put into the shows.”

2. Eddie Murphy hosted Saturday Night Live while he was still a cast member.

Before departing SNL, Murphy was scoring box office hits, including his debut in 1982’s 48 Hrs. His co-star, Nick Nolte, was scheduled to host SNL on December 11 to promote that film. When Nolte fell ill the week of the show, Murphy was selected to host at the last minute—the only time a then-current cast member took over hosting duties. “This summer, Nick and I had the opportunity to work together in a motion picture called 48 Hrs.,” Murphy told the audience during his introduction. “Uh, Nick and I grew together, and Nick taught me a lot about myself, and a lot about acting, and he’s a real great guy. You know, we were sitting around in Paramount’s lot this summer, and I said, ‘Nick, why don’t you come and host Saturday Night Live?’ and he said, ‘Yeah, sure, Eddie, anything for you.’ That’s the kind of guy Nick was. When Nick got here, got off the plane, he vomited on my shirt. And we realized Nick was too sick to do the show. And that’s too bad, because Nick was gonna be in some real great stuff tonight. But I know you folks tuned in to see one of the stars of 48 Hrs. host the show, and dammit, you’re gonna see it. ‘Cause I’m gonna host the show. Live, from New York, it’s the Eddie Murphy Show!”

3. Fred Rogers liked Eddie Murphy’s impression of him.

While on Saturday Night Live, Murphy repeatedly returned to a sketch character named Mister Robinson, a less-than-wholesome version of Mister Rogers. Rather than be dismayed by the parody, Rogers was reportedly very amused by it. He once visited Murphy at Rockefeller Center where SNL was broadcast and met Murphy in his dressing room to congratulate him on the character.

4. There was almost an Eddie Murphy Saturday morning cartoon.

In 1987, at the height of Murphy’s powers in the entertainment industry, he was nearly granted one of the biggest honors of any performer: his own Saturday morning cartoon series. Murphy was reportedly in discussions with Hanna-Barbera for a series—the premise was never disclosed—that would presumably have offered a G-rated interpretation of his comic sensibilities.

The idea was not without precedent. One of Murphy’s comic inspirations, the similarly adult-oriented Richard Pryor, headlined Pryor’s Place, a children's show that ran on CBS for one season beginning in 1984. The untitled Murphy production never saw the light of day, though Murphy did eventually find his way back in the Hanna-Barbera fold. He was set to voice the title character in Hong-Kong Phooey, a live-action and computer-animated adaptation of the ‘70s cartoon featuring a martial arts-proficient dog, in 2011. That project was also shelved.

5. Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop character almost met Crocodile Dundee.

Eddie Murphy stars in 'Beverly Hills Cop' (1984)
Eddie Murphy stars in Beverly Hills Cop (1984).
Paramount Home Entertainment

Released in 1984, Beverly Hills Cop was a gigantic hit, with its $235 million in ticket sales beating even Ghostbusters to become America's highest grossing film of the year. Murphy starred as Axel Foley, a Detroit police detective whose investigation of his friend’s murder leads him to a culture clash in Beverly Hills. The film spawned two sequels in 1987 and 1994. For the third installment, Paramount kicked around the idea of teaming Murphy’s Foley with Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee character, the star of his own fish-out-of-water franchise. The idea was suggested by Brandon Tartikoff, Paramount’s then-president. Another idea would have Foley in London and working with a Scotland Yard inspector played by Sean Connery. The 1994 film ultimately featured Foley attempting to solve his boss’s murder and chasing a lead back to an amusement park in California.

6. Eddie Murphy shot a Beverly Hills Cop television pilot.

Though the Beverly Hills Cop sequels were not as well-received as the original, the role was still important to both Paramount and Murphy. In 2013, the studio launched a pilot for a television series that would see Foley become the chief of police in Detroit and spar with his cop son, Aaron Foley (Brandon T. Jackson). Murphy appeared in the pilot and was expected to recur throughout the series, but CBS failed to pick it up. Murphy is now expecting to shoot a fourth Beverly Hills Cop feature film once he finishes the Coming to America sequel.

7. Eddie Murphy has a deep vault of music he’s recorded.

Though he drew a mixed response to his musical albums in the 1980s, Murphy has never stopped recording music. Following the release of “Party All the Time,” the performer has been steadily using home recording studios to produce material. Speaking with Netflix’s Present Company podcast in 2019, Murphy said there are a lot of songs left unreleased. “I’ve never stopped doing music … I stopped putting it out, though, because the audience gets weirded out by it. And I don’t want to be that guy.”

8. Barack Obama may have gotten him back into stand-up.

Murphy is expected to return to stand-up comedy beginning in 2020, a move that may be the result of a massive $70 million Netflix deal. But according to Murphy, resuming that career might be the product of a meeting with Barack Obama. He met up with the President in 2015, when Murphy was accepting the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Obama asked when he would be doing comedy again. “When you go into the Oval Office and the President asks when you are doing stand-up, it’s time to do some jokes,” Murphy said.

10 Out-of-This-World Facts About Space Camp

U.S. Department of Education, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
U.S. Department of Education, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Each year, millions of kids fill their summer vacation days with songs, crafts, and outdoor activities at camp. Summer camps across the U.S. share many similarities, but Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama is unique. Instead of canoeing and archery, young attendees get to ride spacecraft simulators, build robots, and program computers. It’s the closest young civilians can come to working for NASA.

Space Camp welcomed its first aspiring astronauts in 1982, and since then, more than 900,000 campers have attended the program. From its famous alumni to its depiction in film, here are some more facts about Space Camp.

1. The movie SpaceCamp boosted its popularity.

SpaceCamp, the movie inspired by the real camp in Huntsville, Alabama, wasn’t a huge hit when it debuted in theaters in 1986. It grossed just $9,697,739—a little more than half its reported budget. But it didn’t fade into obscurity completely. The film saw success in the home video market and became popular enough to leave a lasting mark on pop culture. Dr. Deborah Barnhart, the real camp’s director for part of the 1980s, told AL.com that attendance doubled following the movie’s release. SpaceCamp shot many of its scenes on location at the Huntsville center. The life-sized space-shuttle flight-deck and mid-deck built for the film were donated to the camp and used as a simulator there from 1986 to 2012.

2. Space Camp was the brainchild of a missile designer.

Some people may be surprised to learn that Space Camp is located in Alabama and not Florida, home to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center (the movie SpaceCamp is set in Florida despite being filmed in Alabama). But Huntsville, Alabama, has been a major aeronautics center since the 1950s when Wernher von Braun and his team of rocketeers moved there. The German scientist had designed ballistic missiles for the United States military after World War II, and shortly after relocating to Huntsville, he redirected his attention to space flight. He launched the U.S. Space and Rocket Center as a way to demonstrate the area’s rocket technology to tourists. Von Braun also came up with the idea for a science-focused alternative to traditional summer camps after seeing children touring the rocket center and taking notes. Space Camp opened at the center in 1982, a few years after his death.

3. Space Camp activities go beyond space.

The kids at Space Camp do more than ride giant rocket simulators. After enrolling, young campers choose a track to focus on. They can study aviation and learn air navigation and combat techniques, choose robotics and build their own robots, or stick to space-centric subjects and activities. The newest Space Camp experience, cyber camp, teaches kids programming and online security skills.

4. The Space Camp simulators don’t make campers sick.

Space Camp is home to three simulators based on real-life training rigs astronauts use to prepare for space missions. The most intense rig is the multi-axis trainer, and just watching a video of it in action may be enough to make you feel queasy. But according to the camp’s website, campers “should not become sick or dizzy on any of our simulators.” On the multi-axis trainer, this is due to the fact that the rider's stomach remains at the center of the chair throughout the simulation, even as the chair itself is spinning in all directions. Motion sickness is caused when your inner ear fluid and your eyes send your brain conflicting information. Because the rig tumbles so wildly, the rider's inner fluid never has a chance to shift and make them want to vomit.

5. Space Camp boasts some famous alumni.

Space Camp attracts bright young minds from around the world, including a few celebrities. Chelsea Clinton attended the week-long program when her father was in the White House in 1993. Amy Carter, Jimmy Carter’s daughter, and Karenna Gore, daughter of Al Gore, also enrolled in the camp. But not every famous Space Camp graduate came from the world of politics: South African actress Charlize Theron is another notable alumna.

6. Several Space Camp graduates went on to be astronauts.

Many kids who go to Space Camp dream of growing up to be astronauts, and for some of them, that dream becomes a reality. The camp’s alumni includes the “Tremendous 12”—a handful of Space Camp graduates who’ve made it to space. Most members of this elite group were trained by NASA, but a few of them went on to work for other space agencies like the ESA.

7. Most Space Campers end up in STEM professions.

Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama.
GPA Photo Archive, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Even if they don’t go on to be astronauts, most Space Camp attendees have bright futures ahead of them. According to the camp, 61 percent of graduates are studying aerospace, defense, energy, education, biotech, or technology, or they’re working in one of those fields already. Of the alumni pursuing careers in STEM, half of them said that Space Camp inspired that decision.

8. There’s a Space Camp for visually impaired kids.

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama hosts a second Space Camp that shares a lot in common with its original program. There are space simulators, astronaut-training missions, and even scuba diving—the main difference is that the kids there are blind or visually impaired. Space Camp for Interested Visually Impaired Students, or SCIVIS, offers children in grades 4 to 12 a crash course in various STEM subjects. They use accessible tools, like computers adapted for speech and reading materials printed in braille or large print. Activities for the week-long camp are organized by teachers familiar with the needs of visually impaired students.

9. Double Dare sent winners to Space Camp.

After conquering the obstacle course of the Nickelodeon game show Double Dare, kid contestants were sent home with various prizes. Though no doubt exciting in the 1980s and '90s, many of the prizes—which included encyclopedias, cassette recorders, and AOL subscriptions—haven’t aged well. A trip to Space Camp was one of the biggest awards players could win, and it’s one of the few that would still have value today.

10. Adults can go to Space Camp too.

If you never went to Space Camp as a kid, you haven’t missed your chance. While the regular Space Camp is only open to kids ages 9 to 18, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center also offers camp programs for older space enthusiasts. Family Space Camp is designed for groups that include at least one child and one adult, and if you don’t plan on tagging along with a kid, you can enroll in the three-day Adult Space Camp experience that’s strictly for campers 18 and older.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER