Thursday, Feb. 02, 2012

New England Is Their Third Name

When Billy Sullivan bought the rights to a Boston-based AFL football team in 1959, he was not the first to bring pigskin to Beantown. At least three football teams had already run through the city: the Bulldogs, Braves, Redskins and Yanks had all either moved or folded. But Sullivan, determined to create a longstanding sports institution in Boston, held a contest, open to the public, to choose the team's name. Out of thousands of entries, a panel of sportswriters selected "Patriots" as the winner, an entry submitted by 74 people in total. The name was meant to honor Boston's role in the nation's founding and the team's name stood as "Boston Patriots" until 1971, one year after the team was absorbed into the NFL. Moving out of their Boston-based digs and into a brand-new home in Foxborough, Mass., the team was renamed the Bay State Patriots — for just over a month, at least. But the name was rejected by the NFL, and for good reason: it was quickly pointed out to the Patriots' management that the name would be abbreviated B.S. Patriots, a bit of bad branding that the team was not keen on. So, in reverence to Foxboro's location between Boston and Providence, the Patriots were renamed the New England Patriots, underscoring the team's importance to the region as a whole.