Patriots Hall of Famer, Former League MVP Dies at 89

New England Patriots

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efore the days of Tom Brady and Julian Edelman, there was one New England Patriots player who reigned supreme on the offensive side of the ball: Gino Cappelletti.

The Patriots announced on Thursday, May 12 that the former wide receiver and kicking sensation has died at the age of 89. Cappelletti, nicknamed “The Duke,” was the AFL’s most valuable player in 1964 and finished his 11-year career as the league’s all-time leader in points (1,100) and field goals (170).

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Cappelletti was an original member of the Boston Patriots organization in 1960. Owner Robert Kraft published a heartfelt statement about the franchise legend on the Patriots website on Thursday.

“My heart aches after learning of Gino Cappelletti’s passing this morning. For the first 51 years of this franchise’s history, Gino contributed as an all-star player, assistant coach and broadcaster. You couldn’t be a Patriots fan during that era and not be a fan of Gino’s. The Patriots have had many iconic, fan-favorite players over the years. Gino was the first.

“I remember watching him play in 1960 and throughout his career. He was one of the AFL’s biggest stars, becoming the first Patriots player to earn league MVP honors and retiring as the league’s all-time leading scorer. He became the second player in franchise history to earn Patriots Hall of Fame induction and I will always believe he deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“On behalf of my family and the entire Patriots organization, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Gino’s wife, Sandy, their three daughters, Gina, Cara and Christina, and their 10 grandchildren, as well as the many others who will be mourning his loss.”

A Stacked Resume

Among his other accolades, Cappalletti was one of only three players to play in every game in the AFL’s 10-year history, joining George Blanda and Jim Otto.

The legend became just the second Patriots player to be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 1992, joining John Hannah.

Cappelletti was a five-time AFL All-Star selection, led the AFL in scoring five times, and holds the top two scoring seasons in AFL history with 155 points in 1964 and 147 points in 1961. He also holds the Patriots single-game record for points in a game with 28 on December 18, 1965 versus Houston.

The wide receiver still ranks third all-time in Patriots history in scoring with 1,130 career points. He held the record as the all-time leading scorer for New England for an impressive 35 seasons.

Cappelletti is also 10th in all-time receptions with 292 receptions and 12th in all-time yards with 4,589 receiving yards.

More Than a Player

After his playing career, Cappelletti spent more than 30 years as a broadcaster. He also was the Patriots special teams coach from 1979 through the 1981 season. Cappelletti hung up his headset after the 2011 season.

The NFL world truly lost a great person both on and off the field.

“It was truly special to enjoy the company of humble man who accomplished so much in his full life, and one who will be sorely missed by anyone who had the good fortune of meeting him,” Patriots writer Paul Perillo said about Cappelletti after his passing.

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