FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. With news of the passing of Boston Patriots quarterback Vito "Babe" Parilli at the age of 87, I asked longtime former Patriots radio play-by-play man Gil Santos to share his recollections of the Patriots Hall of Famer for those who didn't see him play for the franchise (1961-1967).
"He was a well-known name right away. People had heard of Babe Parilli, who they called the 'Sweet Kentucky Babe' -- he played at Kentucky for Bear Bryant," Santos said Saturday. "He had been a terrific quarterback, an All-America at Kentucky, then a backup in the NFL, and then he got a chance to shine in the AFL."
Santos recalled one notable memory of seeing Parilli on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
"I believe it might have been the first time a member of the Patriots was on the cover; it was a big picture of him smiling and he had a cigar in his mouth," he relayed, before reflecting on Parilli's style of play:
"He would be described now as the old-time, classic, dropback passer. He was not much of a runner in those days with the Patriots, although I guess he had run pretty well at Kentucky. He could read the field, throw the ball, and he knew what he was doing and how to play. And he was a pleasure to be around, a nice guy who had a great sense of humor and could be very funny."
Santos' longtime broadcast partner, Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti, was close with Parilli from their time as teammates. The three later shared many great memories on road trips to Denver, when Santos and Cappelletti would catch up with Parilli, who was coaching the Denver Gold of the USFL and ultimately settled there long-term.
Santos noted that Parilli's time with the Patriots came to an end when the franchise traded him to the Jets for quarterback Mike Taliaferro on July 20, 1968. Parilli then served as Joe Namath's backup with the Jets in Super Bowl III.
"I was happy he was able to be a Super Bowl champion," Santos said.
2. One of the most frequently asked questions from Patriots fans considering a road trip to watch the team play has been when tickets will go on sale for the Nov. 19 game against the Oakland Raiders in Mexico City. The NFL relayed that there isn't a specific date, but that the current plan is for the general on-sale to take place in late summer. Fans can register for more information here, and by doing so, can also become eligible to be part of a select group to get access to pre-sale of tickets. Meanwhile, Patriots season-ticket holders are expected to be given an opportunity to be part of pre-sale for tickets to the game, although specifics are not yet finalized.
3. A neat story learned on social media, and confirmed to be accurate by those close to the situation: Patriots top draft choice Derek Rivers (third round, No. 83) was recently out to dinner with his family in Boston and ordered an extra meal before everyone departed. Rivers' mother, Mary Leinonen, figured that it was a way for her son to keep his weight up, only to watch in surprise as Rivers then delivered the meal to a homeless person he had passed en route to dinner.
Perhaps feeling a sense of pride after watching her son's gesture, Leinonen shared the story on social media, but didn't expect it to go much further than that. So there might have been some surprise when this reporter reached out to family members and friends with the idea of sharing more about the story. Everyone respectfully declined, with the message that Rivers, who is deeply religious, wasn't seeking attention as much as acting in the service of God.
4. When you know training camp is right around the corner: Most Patriots coaches are scheduled to return to work on Thursday, with things truly picking up July 24. As Bill Belichick sometimes describes it, the time has almost come to hop on the treadmill, with the hope that it doesn't stop until a happy ending in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, 2018.
5. In April, it was noted that the Patriots have a "high-class" problem of figuring out where to put their fifth Super Bowl banner because there isn't room next to the first four. On Thursday, Gillette Stadium shared a picture on Instagram of ongoing renovations, which sparked a natural question: Could that be related to plans for creating space for the new banner? Stadium and club officials aren’t confirming specifics at this time, saying only that the renovations are part of improvements on the 300 level.
6. Count former Patriots running back Kevin Faulk among those who plan to be in attendance on July 29 for the Patriots Hall of Fame induction of cornerback Raymond Clayborn, which is free and open to the public. While Clayborn played in the 1970s and 1980s, and Faulk played from 1999-2011, the two have connected at alumni events. Crowds have been mammoth at recent induction ceremonies that have been for modern-era players, and it will be interesting to see if that continues for Clayborn. It was nice to hear that Faulk, a 2016 inductee, is among those who don't want to miss it.
7. Patriots players don't report for another week, but some are already in town getting a head start on things. Last week, for example, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Matthew Slater were at the team's facility getting some work in. Mitchell, who entered the NFL with a notable history with knee injuries, didn't participate in spring practices as the club was cautious with him. But that obviously hasn't stopped him from putting in extra work.
8. Members of the Patriots scouting staff mostly work behind the scenes and under the radar, so this feature on Patriots assistant pro scouting director Steve Cargile caught the eye. How did Cargile wind up working for the Patriots? "I started sending my résumé and cover letter to every team in the league, anybody that I knew," he told News 5 in Cleveland. "I got a lot of 'no's.' I got a lot of people that did not respond, but New England was the one team that responded and brought me up for an interview."
9. Free-agent running back DeAngelo Williams said on the most recent "Know Them Adam" podcast with ESPN's Adam Schefter that he would sign with all but four teams, and didn't reveal them until there was a public vote. While I figured the Patriots would be one of the teams Williams wouldn't sign with based on some past trolling of the franchise, I was wrong.
"There wasn't a lot of hatred there," Williams said on a follow-up interview with Schefter after the initial podcast. "I was speaking -- and will continue to speak -- on the side of being right. You look at all the championship rings that they have, you can't deny the fact that they win. Whether it's them being in a weak division, whether it's Tom Brady being an exceptional quarterback, whether it's him being a system quarterback; whatever the fact is, is that they continue to win and they win on a consistent basis."
10. One leftover from Santos, the longtime Patriots radio play-by-play man: He said he's thoroughly enjoying retirement, but if there was one game he could have had a chance to call since hanging up the microphone, it was Super Bowl LI against the Atlanta Falcons. It's easy to understand why. "Such a fantastic game," he said.