FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Mike Holovak, a longtime NFL executive
who coached the Patriots to their first championship game, died
Sunday, a few hours before the team left for the Super Bowl. He was
Holovak died in Ruskin, Fla., of complications from pneumonia,
Boston College spokesman Reid Oslin said after speaking with
Holovak's wife, Pauline Scudder Holovak. Holovak was a former
football star and coach at Boston College.
The Patriots' second winningest coach, Holovak led the Boston
Patriots to the American Football League title game after the 1963
season. They lost to San Diego, 51-10. He later was vice president
of player personnel and general manager of the Houston Oilers and
stayed on when they moved to Tennessee and became the Titans.
He began his NFL career playing for the Chicago Bears and Los
Angeles Rams before he became freshman football coach at Boston
College in 1949 and varsity coach in 1951.
"Mike Holovak was a great coach and a wonderful person,"
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement issued by the team.
"I remember watching Mike's Boston College teams in the 1950s and
his Patriots teams in the 1960s.
"I was fortunate to have the opportunity to spend time with him
on several occasions. Our team has lost one of its founding fathers
and the entire Patriots family is saddened by Mike's passing."
Holovak had a 53-47-9 record as Patriots coach, including
playoffs. Only Bill Belichick has more wins, 105.
When the Boston Patriots became part of the new AFL in 1960,
Holovak was their first director of player personnel and served as
offensive backfield coach. They were 5-9 that season under Lou
Saban and missed the playoffs.
After they started the 1961 season at 2-3, Holovak replaced
Saban and led them to a 7-1-1 record the rest of the season,
finishing with a 41-0 win at San Diego and a four-game winning
The New England Patriots reached this year's Super Bowl by
beating the Chargers 21-12 in the AFC Championship Game. On Sunday,
about 15,000 fans attended a departure rally at Gillette Stadium at
which Kraft and several players spoke.
The Patriots went 9-4-1 in 1962 and missed the playoffs but made
it for the first time the following year after posting a 7-6-1
They beat Buffalo 26-8 in their first playoff game, then
traveled to San Diego for the AFL championship game. The Patriots
didn't return to the playoffs before Holovak was replaced after the
1968 season by Clive Rush.
"Mike was a mentor, a coach, a friend, and above all, a
consummate gentleman," said Gino Cappelletti, the second leading
receiver on the 1963 Patriots and sixth in club history. "His
contributions as coach and general manager in the critical early
years of the Patriots' franchise were monumental."
Holovak also coached and held administrative positions with the
San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders and New York Jets.
"Mike was the quintessential 'football guy,'" Titans owner Bud
Adams Jr. said in a statement issued by Boston College. "It is
rare when you see a person excel in all three areas of the sport: a
great player in college, a successful coach and great talent
evaluator, but Mike was one of the special people."
A memorial mass was planned for the Boston College campus on