Gino Cappelletti

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Gino Cappelletti
Gino Cappelletti crop.jpg
Gino Capplletti in 2009
Born (1934-03-26) March 26, 1934 (age 80)
Keewatin, Minnesota, United States
Position(s) Wide Receiver,
Placekicker
College Minnesota
Jersey #(s) 20
Career highlights
CFL All-Star 1958
AFL All-Star 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966
Awards 1964 UPI, AP, TSN AFL MVP
Honors Boston Patriots 1960s All-Decade Team
Retired #s New England Patriots #20
Statistics
Teams
1955
1956

1958
1960-1969
1970
ORFU Sarnia Imperials
ORFU Toronto Balmy Beach Beachers
ORFU Sarnia Golden Bears
AFL Boston Patriots
NFL Boston Patriots

Gino Cappelletti (born March 26, 1934) is a retired American collegiate and professional football player. He played at the University of Minnesota and was a star in the American Football League for the Boston Patriots, winning the 1964 American Football League Most Valuable Player award. Cappelletti is a member of the Patriots Hall of Fame, the Patriots' All-1960s Team and the American Football League Hall of Fame. He served as the Patriots' radio color commentator until 2012. His nicknames included "The Duke" and "Mr. Patriot".[1]

College career[edit]

Cappelletti attended the University of Minnesota, where he played as a quarterback, backing up All-American Paul Giel for three seasons. Cappelletti kicked extra points, but the team did not kick field goals in those years. However, as a sophomore, Cappelletti talked the coach into letting him try a game-winning 43-yard kick against Iowa.[2]

In 1954, as a senior, Cappelletti switched to T-quarterback and led Minnesota to a 7-2 record. He was named to the All-Big Ten second team, but was not drafted by any NFL team.

Professional football career[edit]

Cappelletti played quarterback for the Sarnia Imperials of the ORFU in Canada during 1955. He joined Toronto Balmy Beach in 1956, but was drafted into the U.S. Army in mid-season, returning to Canada in 1958. Cappelletti signed with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the CFL, but was traded to the Saskatchewan Roughriders, was later cut, and went back to the ORFU, leading the Sarnia Golden Bears (the team having changed its name in 1956) to the league championship.

Cappelletti went on to join the American Football League's Boston Patriots charter franchise, where he teamed up with quarterback Babe Parilli in to form a tandem nicknamed "Grand Opera." He won AFL MVP honors in 1964, led the league in scoring five times and was a five-time AFL All-Star. He holds the professional football record for points over a six-year period (9.5), points over an 11-year period (7.5) and percentage of his team's total points over an eight-year period (34%). Cappelletti, one of 20 AFL players active during the entirety of the league's ten-year existence, was also among just three players who played in every one of his team's AFL games. He played with the Patriots from 1960 through the 1970 NFL merger season and retired as the AFL's all-time leading scorer with 1,130 points (42 TDs, 176 FGs and 342 PATs) and among the AFL's top ten all-time receivers in yards and in receptions. Cappelletti had two of the top five scoring seasons in pro football history, with 155 points in 1964 and 147 points in 1961 (14-game seasons). His Patriots team scoring record lasted until it was broken by Adam Vinatieri on December 5, 2005. To date he is the Patriots' third all-time leading receiver with 292 catches for 4,589 yards, and he attempted more field goals (334) than has any player in team history.

During Cappelletti's pro career, he also returned punts and kickoffs, played defensive back and even had one pass completion for a touchdown. Cappelletti was just the second AFL player to record three interceptions (of Tom Flores) in a regular-season game, holds the professional football record for most touchdowns in Saturday games (10), scored 18 points or more in a game ten times and scored 20 or more points in a game eight times. He set the AFL single-game record by scoring 28 points in the Patriots' 42-14 rout of Houston on December 18, 1965. Cappelletti is the only player in professional football history to run for a two-point conversion, throw for a two-point conversion, catch a pass, intercept a pass, return a punt and return a kickoff in the same season. He kicked six field goals (without a miss) in a 39-10 win over Denver on October 4, 1964, and became one of only two AFL kickers with at least four field goals per game for three consecutive games. Cappelletti kicked the longest field goal in the AFL in consecutive seasons and led the AFL in field-goal percentage in 1965.

In 1984, Cappelletti was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Despite his star quality and his numerous records, Cappelletti, like other worthy American Football League players, has continually been passed over by the selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Broadcasting[edit]

Cappelletti worked alongside Gil Santos as a color commentator for the Patriots' radio broadcasts on the New England Patriots Radio Network (in the 1988-90 period he worked alongside Dale Arnold). The Santos-Cappelletti duo lasted 28 seasons, the longest radio tandem in modern NFL history. They called 585 regular-season and postseason games together, including a league-record six Super Bowls.

Gino, who did TV sports in Boston in the 1960s, also served as color commentator for the Boston College Eagles during the famous "Hail Flutie" game. Cappelletti can be heard supporting Dan Davis' now-famous call by yelling "He got it!, He got it!, I don't believe it!"

On July 20, 2012, Cappelletti announced he was retiring from broadcasting.[3]

Personal life[edit]

Cappelletti is the father-in-law of ex-Boston College and Chicago Bears standout Tom Waddle.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Preceded by
Lance Alworth, Clem Daniels, & Tobin Rote
American Football League MVP
1964
Succeeded by
Jack Kemp & Paul Lowe
Preceded by
Steve Hausmann
Boston College Eagles football color commentator
1982-1984
Succeeded by
Upton Bell
Preceded by
Upton Bell
Boston College Eagles football color commentator
1987
Succeeded by
Pete Cronan