Patriots

Patriots couldn't host "MNF" games in 1980s because fans drank too much

Patriots couldn't host "MNF" games in 1980s because fans drank too much

Foxboro, Mass. has been a town of terrors for visiting NFL teams in the 21st century. But a few decades ago, the majority of the devastation occurred off the field.

In 1971, the New England Patriots moved into Schaefer Stadium, which would be the team's home under various names (including Sullivan Stadium and Foxboro Stadium) before Gillette Stadium replaced it in 2002.

But the Patriots weren't all that good back then, and neither was the stadium. So, local fans found other ways to enjoy themselves.

From the New York Times' feature Saturday on the history of the Patriots in Foxboro:

When the games did go on, the crowds drank heavily, so much so that Foxborough prohibited the stadium from hosting “Monday Night Football” because of the tumult that ensued after dark. And when the Patriots were not playing, the stadium hosted dozens of rock concerts, where pervasive drug and alcohol use caused nearby hospitals to fill with patients.

The ban on "Monday Night Football" games lasted 14 years, beginning in 1981 and ending in 1995, a year after Robert Kraft bought the team. 

The original Schaefer Stadium had plenty of other problems, though. The local health board actually closed the stadium shortly after the Patriots' first game there due to "malfunctioning toilets" -- which led to some interesting troubleshooting.

Various solutions were tried, including an exercise that enlisted hundreds of volunteers to flush all of the stadium toilets simultaneously — a tactic referred to as Super Flush in the local news media. Fans came up with another name for the site: the Toilet Bowl.

The team also stunk on the field, finishing the 1971 season with a 6-8 record.

But oh how the times have changed: Gillette Stadium now abuts a sprawling outdoor shopping center in Patriot Place, and Tom Brady's Patriots have been virtually unbeatable in The House That Robert Kraft Built. They've won eight playoff games in a row in Foxboro and were the only NFL team to go 8-0 at home this season.

And yes, New England now can host night games; in fact, the team played three contests under the lights at home this season.

The Patriots are hoping home-field advantage -- and the expected frigid temperatures -- will give them a leg up Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC Divisional Round. But if they win, please celebrate responsibly, Pats fans.

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2019 NFL Draft QB Dwayne Haskins responds to bold Tom Brady comparisons

2019 NFL Draft QB Dwayne Haskins responds to bold Tom Brady comparisons

Ohio State star Dwayne Haskins might be the best quarterback prospect entering the 2019 NFL Draft.

Haskins completed 70 percent of his passes for 4,831 yards, 50 touchdowns and just eight interceptions for the Buckeyes last season. 

The 21-year-old received some high praise earlier this month from former NFL quarterback Trent Dilfer, who compared Haskins to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Here's what Dilfer told The MMQB's Albert Breer:

I thought Dwayne should’ve waited (to declare for the NFL Draft), but he’s the most like Tom Brady of anyone we’ve had. He sees it like Tom, he works at it, he plays that way. He plays on time, with his intellectual process. I don’t want to compare anyone to Brady, but he’s Tom Brady-ish.

What did Haskins think of Dilfer's Brady comments?

"From the neck up I feel I'm a lot like Tom Brady," Haskins recently told Sports Illustrated. "From how I study, to how much I commit to get ready for the game, to how I read defenses, to how I pick up protections and how I operate my guys. That's a great comparison for me because I want to be like Tom Brady. He's one of the best quarterbacks of all-time, if not the best. Just to be in the same sentence as 'Tom Brady-ish' is pretty cool to me."

Oklahoma star and reigning Heisman trophy winner Kyler Murray is at the top of most experts' quarterback draft boards. Murray could go as high as No. 1 to the Arizona Cardinals, and if that happens, the next team in need of a quarterback likely is the New York Giants at No. 6. Haskins would be an excellent fit with the Giants, who desperately need a successor to veteran QB Eli Manning.

The comparisons between Brady and Haskins obviously are absurd at this stage, but there's still a lot to like about the Ohio State star's game.

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Patriots draft prospects tracker: Notable players to meet with New England

Patriots draft prospects tracker: Notable players to meet with New England

Unlike in past years, the NFL Draft could help the New England Patriots address some serious needs.

The Patriots enter the 2019 NFL Draft armed with 12 total picks, more than any team in the league. With holes to fill wide receiver, tight end and defensive end (among others) and a potential quarterback of the future to target, head coach Bill Belichick and Co. actually might use a lot of those picks.

Exactly what the Patriots have up their sleeve when the draft kicks off April 25 is anyone's guess. But we can get a feel for their strategy by observing which prospects the team holds individual meetings with in the days and weeks leading up to the draft.

Below is a list of notable NFL draft prospects (organized by position) who have already met with or plan to meet with New England this offseason, as confirmed by reports or the prospects themselves:

QUARTERBACK
Will Grier, West Virginia
Daniel Jones, Duke
Jarrett Stidham, Auburn
Clayton Thorson, Northwestern

WIDE RECEIVER
A.J. Brown, Ole Miss
David Sills, West Virginia
Gary Jennings, West Virginia
Marquise Brown, Oklahoma
Riley Ridley, Georgia
Andy Isabella, UMass
Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
Hunter Renfrow, Clemson

N'Keal Harry, Arizona State
Miles Boykin, Notre Dame

Nsimba Webster, Eastern Washington
Mecole Hardman, Georgia
Jalen Hurd, Baylor

TIGHT END
Noah Fant, Iowa
Irv Smith Jr., Alabama

Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M
Kaden Smith, Stanford
Isaac Nauta, Georgia

OFFENSIVE LINE
OT Kaleb McGary

SAFETY
Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State

CORNERBACK
Joejuan Williams, Vanderbilt

LINEBACKER
Blake Cashman, Minnesota
Terez Hall, Missouri

DEFENSIVE LINE
DE Jalen Jelks, Oregon
DE Zach Allen, Boston College
DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
DT Kingsley Keke, Texas A&M

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