FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to learn of the loss of former Boston Patriots quarterback Vito "Babe" Parilli, passed away. Parilli, a Patriots Hall-of-Famer and member of the 1960s All-Decade Team, was 87.
Born May 7, 1930, in Rochester, Pa., Parilli played in 94 games for the Patriots from 1961-67 and threw for over 20,000 yards during his NFL career. 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 was also named to the All-AFL 10 Year Anniversary Team in 1971 and his 31 touchdown passes in 1964 were a team record until 2007.
Parilli currently sits fourth on the Patriots all-time career passing list with 16,747 yards and fourth with 132 touchdown passes on 2,413 attempts in 94 games over seven seasons. In addition to his skills as a quarterback, Parilli became known as an excellent holder and earned the nickname "gold finger." The combination of holder/quarterback Parilli and kicker/wide receiver Gino Cappelletti came to be known as the "Grand Opera." His pro football career also included stints with the Green Bay Packers (1952-53, 1957-58), the Cleveland Browns (1956), the Oakland Raiders (1960) and the New York Jets (1968-1969). In 1993, Parilli was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame. In 1982, Parilli was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his collegiate career under Bear Bryant at the University of Kentucky.
Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick on the passing of former Patriots quarterback Vito "Babe" Parilli:
"For those old enough to have watched the Boston Patriots, Babe Parilli was a fan favorite. The AFL was an exciting, wide open offense that was in stark contrast to the ground and pound ways of the NFL during that era. Parilli and Gino Cappelletti became two of the most popular players in the AFL and future Patriots Hall of Famers. On behalf of the Patriots organization, we were deeply saddened by the news of Babe's passing. Our thoughts and prayers are will the Parilli family and the many family, friends and former teammates who are mourning his loss."
- Robert Kraft
"I had the pleasure of working with Babe Parilli when we coached on the same staff in Denver. He was such a joy to be around and, of course, one of the great quarterbacks of his era."
- Bill Belichick