In 1970, when the NFL was still in its infancy, the Boston Patriots needed a name change.
Today’s New England Patriots would eventually emerge — but only because the franchise was given an unfortunate nickname.
The Patriots had played their first decade of existence in the American Football League.
When the AFL merged with the National Football League in 1970, the team moved its headquarters from Boston to Foxborough, 20 miles east.
Having toured various stadiums since its inception in 1959, the team needed a place to call their own.
Patriots owner Billy Sullivan was keen to rebrand the franchise as part of the move so the name would reflect a more regional influence.
He chose the Bay State Patriots for the state of Massachusetts.
The name change was officially presented to the NFL in February 1971.
Unfortunately for both the team and Sullivan, the name was flatly rejected by the NFL.
While sportswriters and fans were hysterical over the team’s accidental new abbreviation; BS Patriots.
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Per Pat’s pulpitFormer Patriots general manager Upton Bell recalled, “The first day I came here for my press conference, I picked up one of the papers and the front page said, ‘BS Patriots should hire Bell.'”
“Every writer in town had a great day. The Bulls*** Patriots.”
Sullivan and the board were forced to back down from the renaming and go back to the drawing board.
Eventually they agreed on a new name.
Bell continued, “So one of my first steps was to ask Billy if we could change the name to the ‘New England’ Patriots.”
Since joining the NFL in 1971, the Patriots have won six Super Bowl championships, their first in 2002.
New England has made 27 playoff appearances, including one before the AFL/NFL merger.