|G. CAPPELLETTI Sensed greatness|
Gino Cappelletti has had one of the best seats in the house as the Patriots have gone from wannabes to dynasty. Cappelletti, a former Boston Patriot who was the American Football League's MVP in 1964, is the analyst alongside play-by-play man Gil Santos on the team's radio broadcasts. He will call Super Bowl XLII Sunday as New England attempts to win its fourth title in seven years. He said watching the team's rise to history - one game from an undefeated season - has been a privilege.
"I feel like we've been on a tremendous ride," said Cappelletti, who turns 74 in March. "I think we are witnessing something that may never be seen for a long time. It could happen again but it's very difficult to maintain a certain level of play. To do that over 16 or 17 weeks, with the bye week, it's very demanding. You would think even the best of teams could get a record of 14-2 or 15-1 like some had done and that there would be a slip-up somewhere along the way.
"The Patriots have had to maintain a certain level of play and get a little bit of luck, which you have to have. You need a little bit of luck to win the big game, too. You certainly can't have bad luck. Then again, you've got to be very skilled and very talented, which these two teams are."
He said as far as his broadcasting career goes, covering the team this season is "right up there."
"For some reason, the real peak moment of my broadcasting career was when they won the very first Super Bowl [in 2002]," he said. "My thoughts went to the pioneers of the franchise in the American Football League in the 1960s and what took place then, which I was part of it, and experienced. And to think of all the guys who made all the contributions that they did, some noticed and some unnoticed. And when Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal to win that first Super Bowl, my thoughts went to them and all the adversities of that time. That was a very special moment for me. You think about the moments you remember rather than days, seasons, or games."
Cappelletti said he and others around the 2007 team realized it was a special group early on, because of the tremendous talent on the roster.
"We saw the acquisitions that were made in the offseason," he said. "We felt that's really what might have been lacking in the previous two years. The Patriots came close but didn't get to the Super Bowl but maybe with some of these acquisitions, that would help get them over the hump. With Randy Moss, Wes Welker, Donte' Stallworth, Adalius Thomas, they're quality players and [the team's management was] able to somehow, with the salary cap and with their availability, get them to come to this team. I can only tell you that a lot of players would like to come to this team and organization and somehow it never really works out. When we saw some of the things in preseason, we said, 'You know, this could really be a real strong team.' To go undefeated, that was another thing. Certainly coming close to it, we thought was possible."
Cappelletti knows things don't always go according to the game plan, and he didn't equivocate when asked if there was any scenario under which the Patriots could lose to the Giants.
"Oh, absolutely," he said. "That's the game of football. That's why they play the games. You have to go out and win it. Anything can happen. The football is a funny shape and because of this funny shape, it bounces this way sometimes and it bounces that way sometimes. One bounce can do something about the outcome of the game. An official's flag thrown at an untimely moment, anything like that can turn things around as well. But over the course of the game, the team that plays the better football usually wins."
As for his own career, Cappelletti doesn't know how much longer he will continue on the air.
"I've been doing it one year at a time along with [Santos] and I think I will continue to [do that]," he said.
In addition to all the local coverage leading up to the big game, Fox, which will air the Super Bowl, will begin its coverage at 2 p.m. from University of Phoenix Stadium. At the top of the show, Chris Myers, who is covering the Patriots, will report from the team hotel. Pam Oliver will file reports from the Giants' hotel . . . Among the more interesting features will be a Moss interview during the 4-4:30 time slot as well as reports on Welker and Stallworth . . . In the 5:30-6 slot, Terry Bradshaw will chat with Tom Brady . . . Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman, who will provide color commentary during the game, was asked where New England belongs in history should it win Sunday. "If they are able to win their fourth world championship, it puts them in a class with the 1980s San Francisco 49ers and the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers. I appreciate what they have been able to accomplish, it's an incredibly difficult thing to do."
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.