RE: [patriotzip] Re: 1976 Patriots
That is a great story George! It gives us a look at the Billy Sullivan that many of us never knew of.
I would also like to thank you for your service to our country, thank you George.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto: email@example.com ] On Behalf Of George
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2009 11:29 AM
Subject: [patriotzip] Re: 1976 Patriots
Many of you have heard this story before, but this seems like an occasion
that demands a re-telling.
Back in 1970, I was serving as an Infantry Officer in Vietnam . I was every
bit as dedicated to my Patriots then as I am today. I arrived in Vietnam in
March. As the Draft approached, my thoughts remained back in Massachusetts ,
wondering who would be added to my team. I wrote a letter to founder and
owner, Billy Sullivan, asking if he could send me any details about the
team's activities, since news was both scarce and late where I was.
Well, Billy was more than a bit surprised that a person in my situation was
concerned about his football team. Much to my surprise, he wrote back
personally, and directed his staff to put me onto the media list for all
press releases and materials. I received those throughout my tour; as well
as continued personal correspondence with Billy. He promised to put me at
the head of the Season Ticket list when I returned.
Sadly, I wasn't able to take advantage of his offer; as I moved to
California very shortly after I returned from Vietnam . But our relationship
continued. For the next several seasons, every time the Patriots came out to
the West Coast to play (then LA, San Diego , Oakland , and San Francisco ),
Billy provided tickets for me and my wife. When they played in cities other
than LA, he reserved a room for us in the team hotel, so that we could meet
with him, and mingle with players. (The tickets were free, but I did have to
pay for the rooms.) :-)
In the subject year of 1976, I was seated on the 30 yard line, about half
way up in the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum, directly over the notorious
"Roughing the Passer" call on Sugar Bear Hamilton, by Ben Dreith. It's a
memory that will live with me forever, as I saw what should have been our
first trip to the Super Bowl disappear, when Raiders' QB, Ken Stabler,
followed his Academy Award winning dive with the TD pass that sent them on
the way to the championship that should have been OURS!
That, to be sure, was a painful experience. But the overall memories of that
very special relationship with Billy Sullivan are among the best of my life.
They later included my first opportunity to attend a Super Bowl. Billy
provided me with tickets to the classic game in 1980, when the Steelers beat
the Rams 31-19, with immortal highlight catches by Lynn Swann and Donte
Stallworth. By the way, the face value of those Super Bowl tickets in 1980
I know that many people either remember, or have been told, many negative
things about Billy Sullivan. But I knew him as a guy who loved the game, and
loved the fans, with all his heart. His children, to be sure, were a bunch
of spoiled, arrogant a$$es. But Billy was as down to earth as they come.
Just an ordinary neighborhood Irishman, who never lost the personality that
goes with that background. We truly enjoyed his company every bit as much as
his hospitality. It should never be forgotten that, while he wasn't able to
bring us the championships we've had from Bob Kraft's management; it was
Billy Sullivan that gave us our team!
OK. That's my trip down memory lane. Probably the last time I'll bore some
of you with it. I hope those for whom it was new enjoyed it.