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New England Patriots – Established 1959

The story of the New England Patriots dates back to November 16, 1959, when Boston businessman Billy Sullivan secured the eighth and final team in the new American Football League (AFL). As was common in the day, a contest was held to name the team with the most popular choice being the Boston Patriots.

The Patriots made their first AFL Championship game in 1963 and earned their first playoff win over Buffalo to take the division. They went on to lose the AFL Championship Game to the San Diego Chargers 51-10. It was the last time the Patriots would make the playoffs as a member of the AFL.

When the leagues finally merged in 1970, the Patriots were assigned to the American Football Conference (AFC) in the East division. They still play in the AFC East today. In 1971 the team moved into its first permanent home in Foxboro and announced a name change from the Boston Patriots to the Bay State Patriots. The name did not go over well with the league and the two parties eventually settled on New England Patriots.

The first decade in the NFL was not great for New England and the team made the playoffs just twice, in 1976 and 1978. They were bounced out in the first round each time. It wasn’t until 1985 that the Patriots would win their first AFC Championship and their first trip to a Super Bowl. Super Bowl XX did not go as planned for New England and the team fell to the Chicago Bears 46-10.

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the team would experience a slump and change ownership several times. They were bought by Victor Kiam in 1988, then by James Orthwein in 1992. Orthwein tried to move the team to St. Louis and rename them the Stallions. Instead, he sold the team in 1994 to the current owner, Robert Kraft. Kraft had formerly bought Foxboro Stadium out of bankruptcy in 1988.

It was under Kraft that the Patriots grew into the legendary franchise and have sold out every preseason, regular season, and postseason game since. The Patriots hired Bill Belichick in 2002 and broke ground on a new stadium. Belichick, along with the No. 199 pick in the NFL Draft Tom Brady, would dominate the NFL for years. Brady started 2000 as the fourth-string QB and moved to No. 2 before the end of the year. Drew Bledsoe started the 2021 season as the starter but injuries led Brady to the field. Brady led the Patriots to the playoffs and a victory in Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams.

Despite not winning a title until 2000, the Patriots are tied for most Super Bowl wins in the NFL at six with the Steelers. Brady and New England won it all in 2001, 2003, 2004, 2014, 2015, and 2018. They made it to and lost the Super Bowl in 2007, 2011, and 2018.