The New England Patriots were founded in 1959 in the AFL (American Football League) as the Boston Patriots and joined the NFL during the 1970 NFL/AFL merger. When they moved to Foxborough in 1971 they changed to the current name.
Obviously, everybody knows the success that the Patriots have enjoyed since the pairing of Tom Brady and Bill Belichek, but they enjoyed some success before then, going to 2 Super Bowls, once in 1985 against the Chicago Bears and once again in 1996 against the Green Bay Packers.
Since 2001, the Patriots have went to 9 Super Bowls, and won 6 of them. This includes a stretch 11 straight divisions titles, and they made the playoffs every year except for one from 2004 – 2019, which is still an active streak.
With Tom Brady testing the free-agent market for the first time in his career, the future of the Patriots is uncertain, but even with that, the Patriots can look back on possibly the best stretch in the history of the NFL. Tied with the Steelers with 6 Super Bowl wins, and also tied with the Broncos with 5 Super Bowl losses, the Patriots have become synonymous with the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady – Quarterback 2000 – present
It is tough to dispute that Tom Brady has become the greatest quarterback in the history of the NFL. With 6 Super Bowl victories, and was the Super Bowl MVP Awards, it is easy to see why. He has also been named the NFL MVP 3 separate times, in 2007, 2010 and 2017. 2007 was a spectacular season, as he led the Patriots to an undefeated regular season, throwing for 4,806 yards, and became the first quarterback to throw for 50 touchdowns in a season while only throwing only 8 interceptions.
Tom Brady has been selected to the Pro Bowl an amazing 14 times, with 5 times being voted to the All-Pro team. In addition, after being injured and missing all but one game in 2008, Brady was selected as the NFL Comeback Player of the Year in 2009.
With the exception of 2008, Brady has thrown for at least 3,500 yards every year since 2004 and has 11 seasons over 4,000 yards. Brady has many NFL records, including most wins by a quarterback, and most career passing yards and touchdowns with one team. (Drew Brees is ahead in those categories overall, but started his career in San Diego before going to New Orleans).
Brady is still playing at a high level as he gets older, becoming the oldest player to win the NFL MVP at 40, when he became the oldest player to lead the league in passing yards, most yards thrown by a player over 40, and the oldest position player to be named to the first-team All-Pro. Not bad for the 199th overall pick in the draft, huh?
In addition to these regular-season records, Brady owns just about every playoff and Super Bowl record for a quarterback, including most passing yards, most touchdowns, most wins, and many more. Wherever Tom Brady ends up next year, you can be sure he will be adding to an already all-time legacy.
Tedy Bruschi – Inside Linebacker 1996 – 2008
One of the leaders of the defense that helped lead the New England Patriots to their first 3 Super Bowl victories in the early 2000’s, Tedy Bruschi was named defensive captain in the 2002 season. In 2003 Bruschi finished second in tackles each year.
Just after playing in the 2005 Pro Bowl, Bruschi suffered a minor stroke, but was able to come back to play during the 2005 season, and won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
He was also the first player to return 4 consecutive interceptions for a touchdown, and those 4 touchdowns rank him second in the history of the Patriots.
Since leaving his playing days behind him in 2008, Bruschi has been an NFL analyst for ESPN.
Dont’a Hightower – Inside Linebacker 2012 – present
Although Bruschi’s number would surely have been retired by the Patriots, he did not want it to be retired. That number (54) is now worn by inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower. He was selected 25th overall in the 2012 NFL draft and has been a vital part of the Patriots defense that has won 3 Super Bowls in the last 6 seasons.
With great versatility, he is able to play both inside and outside linebacker positions and selected to two Pro Bowls in his early career.
James White – Running Back 2014 – present
James White was selected by the Patriots in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL draft and has been part of 3 of the New England Super Bowl teams, although he did not play in the 2014 postseason. In Super Bowl LI, trailing the Atlanta Falcons 28-3, White helped the Patriots make the largest comeback in Super Bowl history, with 3 touchdowns and also the first points ever scored in overtime in a Super Bowl, while setting a Super Bowl record with 14 receptions.
Used primarily as the Patriots third-down back, White is very versatile, being able to make plays from the backfield, catching passes from the backfield or being split out wide.
Rob Gronkowski – Tight End 2010 – 2018
One of the most talented tight ends of all time, “Gronk” joined the Patriots as a second-round pick in the 2010 NFL draft. He made an impact almost immediately, scoring 10 touchdowns his rookie year, most ever by a tight end.
Gronkowski basically rewrote the record book for tight ends, becoming the only tight end to lead the league in touchdowns and setting many more single-season and career records for tight ends.
Among those are most seasons with 10+ touchdowns with 5, most consecutive years with 10+ touchdowns with 3, and most seasons with 1,000 yards with 4, which he is tied with Jason Witten and Tony Gonzalez.
Stephen Gostkowski – Kicker 2006 – present
Anybody that passes Adam Vinatieri has definitely had a great career. That is exactly what happened when Gostkowski surpassed Vinatieri in 2012 as the Patriots all-time leading scorer.
Gostkowski also holds the NFL record for most extra points made with 479, while helping the Patriots to their 3 Super Bowls in the 2010s.
Julian Edelman -Wide Receiver 2009 – present
A seventh-round pick in the 2009 NFL draft, Edelman has become one of Tom Brady’s favorite targets. A member of the last 3 Super Bowl titles, Edelman was named the MVP of Super Bowl LIII, when he caught 10 passes for 141 yards, becoming the first wide receiver to win the award since Santonio Holmes did in 2009.
Malcolm Butler – Cornerback 2014 – present
Relatively unknown as a rookie, Butler single-handedly won Super Bowl XLIX in his second season as he intercepted a pass from Russell Wilson at the 1-yard line to seal the victory.
After the Patriots signed defensive back Stephon Gilmore he was relegated to second on the depth chart, and although still had a successful year, he did not play at all in the Super Bowl loss to the Eagles in 2017, even though he was healthy. The next year Butler signed with the Tennessee Titans, where he is revitalizing his career with coach Mike Vrabel, who played most of his playing career with the New England Patriots.
Randy Moss – Wide Receiver 1998 – 2012
Already one of the greatest receivers of all-time from his time in Minnesota, when Moss was paired with Tom Brady, they were able to put together one of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of the NFL.
In 2007, his first with New England, Randy Moss set the NFL record with 23 touchdown receptions. He scored a touchdown in 13 of 16 games that season, including 8 multi-touchdown games, and his 98 receptions were third-best in franchise history.
Devin McCourty – Free Safety 2010 – present
One of the few defensive players to have played for all three of the Patriots recent Super Bowl titles, McCourty was selected in the first round of the 201 NFL draft.
McCourty was named starting cornerback during his first few years, before being moved to free safety when Patrick Chung left for free agency. Then when Chung came back after a year, they formed one of the strongest safety tandems in the league, with Chung moving to Strong Safety.
He has also been named team captain in 5 of his first 6 years and ended up being the captain that 6th year as well because of injuries to OJ Mayo and Vince Wilfork.
Richard Seymour – Defensive Lineman 2001 – 2012
A first round selection by the New England Patriots, Seymour was picked with the 6th overall pick in the 2001 NFL draft. A member of 3 Super Bowl winning teams in the early 2000s, Seymour was successful in both a 4-3 defense as well as a 3-4 defense when the Patriots switched over before the 2004 season.
Seymour was selected to 7 Pro Bowls, including 5 straight with the Patriots in 2002 – 2006. He was also a first-team All-Pro 3 straight years from 2003-2005, and second team in 2006 and 2011 with the Oakland Raiders.
Named to the NFL all-decade team of the 2000s, Richard Seymour was definitely one of the best defensive lineman in the game.
Troy Brown – Wide Receiver 1993 – 2007
Troy Brown sometimes gets forgotten in the Patriots history, but was part of 5 of the Patriots Super Bowl teams, winning 3 of them. Brown returned a punt for a touchdown in the AFC championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2001, providing the margin of victory.
He is the Patriots all-time leading punt returner with 252 returns, 2,625 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, he is second all-time in receptions, with 557, and third in yards, with 6,366.
In 2004, Troy Brown showed his versatility by filling in on defense in an emergency role as a defensive back, second on the team with three interceptions. In doing this, Brown became the only player in NFL history with 550 receptions, 250 punt returns and an interception.
Playing his entire 15 year career with the Patriots, Troy Brown had played the most games with them outside of Steve Gogan, until Tom Brady passed both of them.
With one of the most storied histories in NFL history, there are many great players to talk about. Can you think of any that we missed? Or any players that you would like to see with their own bobblehead? Let me know in the comments below!