Patriots great Babe Parilli dies at 87

Vito “Babe” Parilli, a member of the Patriots’ Hall of Fame and one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of the American Football League, has died at the age of 87.

An All-American and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist while playing for Bear Bryant at Kentucky in 1950 and 1951, Parilli was one of the greatest players ever to play for the Wildcats and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.

The Packers made Parilli the fourth overall pick of the 1952 NFL draft, but he lasted just two seasons in Green Bay before heading north and playing for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. He then became a football wanderer, going from Ottawa to Cleveland, back to the Packers, then back to Ottawa and never really finding the right fit.

But when the AFL launched in 1960, he found the right fit. He joined the Raiders in the AFL’s inaugural season, then was traded to the Boston Patriots and had an outstanding career there, being chosen to three AFL All-Star games. His 31 touchdown passes in 1964 stood as the Patriots’ record until Tom Brady broke it in 2007. Parilli’s playing career ended with the Jets, where he won a ring as Joe Namath’s backup in Super Bowl III. When he finally announced his retirement as a player in 1970, he was 40 years old.

After that, Parilli got to work as a coach, spending a year as an assistant with the Steelers before becoming head coach of the New York Stars and later the Chicago Winds of the World Football League. He later coached six different Arena Football League teams.

Parilli’s love of football never waned, and after watching this year’s national championship game between Alabama and Clemson, Parilli said, “Best game I ever saw in the college playoffs. Watched it all the way to the end.”

Few people saw more in the game of football than Babe Parilli.

29 responses to “Patriots great Babe Parilli dies at 87

  1. I remember Babe Parilli well when he played for the AFL Boston Patriots. He was a great AFL/NFL QB. Great football player and person and he will be missed.

  2. a classic afl player back in the 60s and a throwback

    if he had found a better team in the era he played in,
    he would have been looked at more like an otto grahamp

    great career, rip

  3. I remember Babe Parilli well. Fun to watch, and one of the pioneers of the AFL.
    He lived a long and fruitful life doing what he loved to do, including playing pro football until he was 40, and remaining active in the sport in various other leagues long after he retired as a player. We should all be so fortunate.
    RIP, and thanks for the memories.

  4. Babe was the QB when I started following the Pats. Remember the epic battles with the Bills and Kemp.
    In addition, you had nance and Gilchrist too. Afl back then was kind of how the NFL is now. Wide open. But you could hammer the qb’s and receivers. RIP Babe!

  5. babe played when you had to actually be a qb, you know, call the plays, and wow, actually had defense you had to play against, the rules were tougher, the players were tougher, and you actually had to earn your yardage and td passes…unlike some NE qb’s….

  6. grogansheroes says:
    Afl back then was kind of how the NFL is now. Wide open. But you could hammer the qb’s and receivers. RIP Babe!

    Bingo! Much like the old ABA in basketball, the upstart AFL had to be daring, creative, flashy, and wide-open to attract fans away from its older and much more established counterparts in the NFL.
    Both leagues succeeded, garnering enough attention that they eventually forced mergers and changed both established leagues for the better. Babe was a part of that. RIP, indeed.

  7. Before my time. I know he played with Gino Cappaletti. I don’t get all of the thumbs down for the original great Patriots quarterback. There was Patriots football before Grogan and Plunkett.

  8. Babe Parilli was one of my childhood sports heroes. One of the last great memories I have of my father when he was healthy was badgering him into taking me to a Patriots game at Fenway for my birthday in ’67. Parilli threw 5 td’s against Miami, it was one of only three wins they had that year. My Dad, like most adult Boston football fans of that time, was a Giants fan. He didn’t think much of the AFL and even less of Billy Sullivan. I was exhilarated after that game the way only a boy can be about a third rate team that was going nowhere in a second rate league. I still remember my father trying to save me some future heart ache and temper my enthusiasm for the Pats by telling me ‘Unless they get a real owner that team is never going to amount to anything. Parilli, Nance, Cappelletti and that corner (Buoniconti) deserve better fates than working for Billy Sullivan.’ He was right on both counts. The Pats spent most of the Sullivan era as broke and embarrassing also rans, loving that team was painful. Parilli, Nance and Cappelletti never received the kind of recognition they deserved and if Buoniconti didn’t get traded to Miami he wouldn’t have gotten his.

    Thanks for the memories and RIP Babe Parilli.

  9. His 31 touchdown passes in 1964 stood as the Patriots’ record until Tom Brady broke it in 2007.
    ==================================

    So if he played under the Tom Brady rule he’d probably have had 65-70.

  10. Babe played back when men were men, and when they did not wear skirts and dance like the look at me players of today, the sports world has lose something that the younger fans have no idea about its history. Bill…Thumbs down all you may want, except you weren’t there.

  11. I saw Babe Parilli play for the Boston Patriots many times on tv. He was a very good QB for a long time.
    I wish the old AFL never merged with the NFL. I think the AFL had a special magic that the NFL didn’t have, and it was fun watching them try to compete for players. The AFL was smart because they got the NFL into bidding wars for college players and that’s why the NFL had to merge with them.
    But it was fun watching the old AFL and guys like Babe Parilli, Daryl the Mad Bomber Lamonica, Len Dawson, and Joe Namath play.
    RIP Babe.

  12. abninf says:
    Jul 15, 2017 5:14 PM
    His 31 touchdown passes in 1964 stood as the Patriots’ record until Tom Brady broke it in 2007.
    ==================================
    So if he played under the Tom Brady rule he’d probably have had 65-70.
    ______________

    An actual football fan would know it is the Carson Palmer rule. But then a real fan of the game would also show some respect and not troll on this type of article either.

  13. I watched Babe and the Pats lose 33-10 to the mighty Chiefs at Fenway Park in 1967. I played little league baseball with his son, Vance. My father and Babe coached! Nice guy, great player.

    Rest in Peace, old pro.

  14. If you watch Super Bowl 3, Parelli got in and threw a pass. Namath hurt his thumb on a helmet, but 69 Parelli looked overmatched. Who knew his name was Vito?

  15. ftomasic1961 says:
    Jul 15, 2017 2:40 PM

    babe played when you had to actually be a qb, you know, call the plays, and wow, actually had defense you had to play against, the rules were tougher, the players were tougher, and you actually had to earn your yardage and td passes…unlike some NE qb’s….
    —————————————————-
    Sure, brilliant take. Because obviously the rules got softer for only NE over the years. Whatever, typical classless troll. Babe was the first player I remember making believe I was when playing football with the guys on the sandlot. He and Nance made me a lifetime Pats fan and it’s sad to see he has passed. RIP #15

  16. @ftomasic1961

    100% correct, stat geeks and younger fans like to point out guys like Parilli and Namaths stats to discredit them and call them “overrated” but if both Babe and Namath were to play in today’s NFL they would of lit it up.

  17. nic3roc0123 says:
    Jul 15, 2017 9:45 PM
    @ftomasic1961

    100% correct, stat geeks and younger fans like to point out guys like Parilli and Namaths stats to discredit them and call them “overrated” but if both Babe and Namath were to play in today’s NFL they would of lit it up.

    ———————————————————————

    I agree with your point about younger fans not appreciating players from the past nearly enough.
    However, Joe Namath is the most over rated QB in the Hall Of Fame in my view. He threw 173 TD’s in his career and had 220 interceptions.
    If the Jets hadn’t won that 1969 Super Bowl, no way Namath gets in the Hall Of Fame. And, there’s no way he should have been the MVP of that game, either. Matt Snell and the Jets defense is the reason they won that game, not Joe Namath.
    Namath did very well to even play in the pros given the shape of his knees when he arrived in the AFL, but no one can argue that his stats alone were good enough to get him into the Hall Of Fame. He got in because he was brash enough to predict that his Jets would beat the Colts in that SB when they were 18 point underdogs, which turned out to be the most important games in AFL history, and one of the most important games in NFL history, too.

  18. Loved the Babe. RIP. He lived a long and fruitful life. He was a great player and an even better man.

  19. Babe Parilli was one of my first heroes as a young boy. I remember him throwing to Jim Colclough (RIP) and Gino Cappelletti for the Boston Patriots at Fenway Park when my father took me to my first AFL game for my birthday. Rest in peace Vito.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!