Gino Cappelletti is one of the best players in the history of the AFL and in the history of the New England Patriots franchise.
Have you ever wondered why there is not a No. 20 jersey available for the New England Patriots?
It’s because it has been retired in honor of one of the greatest players to ever play for the franchise and in the AFL: Gino Cappelletti.
Throughout his entire 11-year professional career, Gino Cappelletti proved to be one of the best players in the AFL and all the way through the NFL merger from 1960-1970 with the Boston Patriots. He also played in the first game and scored the first points for the franchise under their new team name, the New England Patriots.
During the 1960s, Cappelletti was one of the best players in the AFL and earned the MVP award in 1964. He also went on to make five Pro Bowl teams (1961, 1963-1966) and led the AFL in scoring on five different occasions, but also did it in four consecutive years — making him the AFL’s all-time leading scorer with 1,130 points.
Cappelletti was one of the first do-it-all players that the AFL had to offer, and he is also only one of three footballers to play in every game during the existence of the AFL. He was a versatile place-kicking wide receiver who is a member of the Patriots’ 1960s All-Decade Team and the New England Patriots Hall of Fame (1992 inductee).
Notably, he was also the first player to have his jersey number retired by the franchise.
As a wide receiver, Cappelletti — 6’, 190 lbs — was shifty, elusive, and excelled at creating space for himself from a double-move passing route that would leave him wide open — but he also had strong and sturdy hands to make any catch.
Throughout his career, Cappelletti made 292 receptions (12th all-time in franchise history) for 4,589 yards (10th all-time in franchise history) and 42 receiving touchdowns (fifth all-time in franchise history).
But since he was also a kicker, Cappelletti also ranks third all-time in total points scored for the Patriots with 1,130 points (42 touchdowns, 342 extra points, and 176 field goals).
It’s worth mentioning that Cappelletti was the Patriots’ leading scorer from 1970-2005 until the great Adam Vinatieri surpassed him. He also holds two of the top scoring seasons in league history:147 points in 1961 and 155 points in 1964.
After his playing career, Cappelletti became the team’s color commentator on the New England Patriots Radio Network alongside Gil Santos. Together, the two were the best broadcasting tandem in the NFL, calling 585 regular season and postseason games — including six Super Bowls.
This is what Cappelletti said about the Patriots when he officially retired from the radio booth, per CBS Boston:
“Through five decades, my romance with football and my relationship with the Patriots organization have provided me with a lifetime of wonderful memories. I have had the privilege of sharing the broadcast of six Super Bowls, and amazingly, five in the past decade. The memory of the first Super Bowl victory will always be fresh in my mind. For me, it serves as a special reminder of how far this franchise has come, the challenges that were met, and the adversity we faced in those early years. But as they say in the huddle after a long, successful day’s work, it’s time to take a knee and celebrate the win.”
Cappelletti did it all for the Patriots on and off the field, and was a true pioneer for the game of football along the way.
For that, he deserves to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame — and it’s a shame that he is not as of yet. In 2003, however, Cappelletti was added to the list of Pro Football’s Hall of Very Good Players.
At the end of the day, Cappelletti is a true pioneer of the game and it’s a real travesty that he still has not been awarded a gold jacket from the Pro Football Hall of Fame.