New England Patriots

Patriots Talk: Ex-Patriot Vito ‘The Babe’ Parilli Has Passed Away At 87

Patriots Talk: Ex-Patriot Vito ‘The Babe’ Parilli Has Passed Away At 87

It’s an bright and sunny day here in New England, but sadly one of the original members of the Boston Patriots has left us on this beautiful day.


Former Boston Patriots quarterback Vito “The Babe” Parilli, has died at the age of 87. He was a Patriots Hall-of-Famer and member of the 1960s All-Decade Team,and was one of the biggest icons of the franchise when it was first created in 1960.


Parilli was born on May 7, 1930, in Rochester, Pennsylvania. During his college years at the University of Kentucky, he was an All-American and two-time Heisman Trophy finalist in 1950 and 1951. Parilli has been regarded as one of the greatest to have ever played for the Kentucky Wildcats and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame.


He was the fourth overall pick in the 1952 NFL draft, and was selected by the Green Bay Packers. His career fluctuated as he was only in Green Bay for two seasons before heading to the Canadian Football League to play for the Ottawa Rough Riders. Parilli was in a football limbo for eight years as he wandered from Ottawa, Cleveland, Green Bay and never was able to find his place within the sport.

When the AFL first emerged in 1960, Parilli jumped at the opportunity and joined the Boston Patriots, where he would spend the next seven seasons of his career playing quarterback for the team. He played in 94 games for the Patriots from 1961-67 throwing for over 16,747 yards and 132 touchdown passes (which places him at fourth all-time with the team for both).

He was voted to three AFL All-Star games (1963-64 and 1966) and earned the AFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award in 1966. Parilli held the Patriots record for touchdown passes with 31 in 1964, which stood for over 43 years before it was broken by Tom Brady in 2007.

In addition to his skills as a quarterback, Parilli became well-known as an excellent holder for special teams and earned the nickname “Gold Finger.” The combination of the holder & quarterback Vito Parilli and kicker & wide receiver Gino Cappelletti, made them a deadly force that became known as the “Grand Opera.” In 1982, Parilli was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his collegiate career under Bear Bryant at the University of Kentucky and in 1993, he was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame.

We send out our condolences to Parilli’s family and friends, who are mourning as we have all lost a Patriot on this day.

Patriots Talk: Ex-Patriot Vito ‘The Babe’ Parilli Has Passed Away At 87
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