BOSTON (CBS) — Major change is on the way for the New England Patriots this season. It won’t be on the field, and it won’t involve a player or coach leaving town, but the way fans follow the game will be changed significantly.
After 36 years in the broadcast booth, Gil Santos has retired. But the voice of the Patriots won’t walk away from Foxboro without first adding one more line to his resume: Hall of Famer.
Santos, along with Tedy Bruschi, was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame on Monday evening at Gillette Stadium. He became just the second non-player to receive such distinction.
“Today, quite frankly, is the high point of my broadcast career of more than 50 years, to be selected to the Patriots Hall of Fame,” Santos told the large crowd on hand for the ceremony.
Santos began his Patriots broadcasting career in 1966, first as a color analyst and then as play-by-play announcer. In that time, he missed just one game — a preseason contest against the Jets in 1971, which Santos missed in order to attend the funeral services for his father. In all, he called 745 Patriots games on the radio, including three Super Bowl victories.
“Let me assure you, it was never a job,” Santos said. “It was an honor. It was a privilege. And I’m delighted to have been able to do it for all that time.”
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft, who introduced Santos, said he would set his alarm extra early as a kid to get the sports news from Santos on WBZ, and he and his family listened to Santos while sitting in the stands as fans.
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“He welcomed you in. It felt like you were listening to a member of your family. With his amazing partner Gino, they told the story of the Patriots for many, many years,” Kraft said. “There will be others who call the games, but the man who will forever be the voice of the New England Patriots is Gil Santos.”
Along with Gino Cappelletti, Santos was part of the longest-tenured broadcasting duo in modern NFL history, with the two working in tandem for 28 seasons.
“A couple of years ago I was reading an article, and the article was about life in general,” Santos said during the ceremony. “The gentlemen who wrote the article, at the end of it, posed a question to everyone who read it. The question was, ‘Can you sum up your life in six words?’
“I thought about that for 10 seconds and I said absolutely — I am a very lucky man.”