Cappelletti: How a Pats' fan decided one AFL game

The AFL was a league unlike any other, and former Patriots' star Gino Cappelletti recalls one of the most unforgettable finishes to a Pats-Dallas Texans game in the league's first season.

Gino Cappelletti photo courtesy of the New England Patriots
Gino Cappelletti photo courtesy of the New England Patriots

(Photos courtesy of the New England Patriots)

Talk of Fame Network

Gino Cappelletti spent the first half of his football career scoring points, setting an AFL record with 1,130 of them. Then he spent 28 years calling games and telling stories while broadcasting New England Patriots’ contests with partner Gil Santos.

On this week’s Talk of Fame Network broadcast, Cappelletti puts both ends of his career to use with a story of an unforgettable finish to a game in the AFL’s inaugural season. It involved the Patriots and Dallas Texans and a potential game-tying touchdown pass that fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired.

Nothing unusual about that. But there is about this: The defender? It was a fan. He ran off the sidelines and cut in front of the intended receiver, Chris Burford, to break up the play.

“Did you know what happened?” Ron Borges asked Cappelletti.

“I didn’t at that time,” he said. “We saw it on film. We were ahead 28-21, and they got to the 1. And it looked like it was very possibly going to be an overtime game. People came running out on the field because when they looked at the clock it was like there was one second left, and everybody tried to push over the officials and say the game is over.

“So they had to clear the field. And by clearing the field they pushed the crowd back to the sidelines. And the people in the end zone … they had to push them back and out of the end zone. (So) in the back of the end zone is where they lined up. The fans in the stadium were lined up all around the field. And, sure enough, here comes this guy (off the sidelines).

"(Dallas quarterback Cotton Davidson) was looking for his receiver (Burford), and he was open. And here comes this guy, and he cuts in front of him and gives it the wand. You know the wand with two arms? And then he just circles right back into the crowd. It was incredible.”