For many New England Patriots fans the baritone sound of Gil Santos’ voice meant that another fall was taking shape in New England. For 36 years (1966-1979, 1991-2012), Santos has been the voice of New England Patriots football.
In 1966 Santos and the legendary Bob Starr replaced Bob Gallagher and Ned Martin in the broadcast booth and it was the start of a New England love affair between Santos and the fans.
The first five years in the booth, he was the Number 2 guy with Starr doing play-by-play. That changed in 1971 when Santos took over the play-by-play call when John Carlson joined him for one season. In 1972 Patriots ownership put together the crew that would be together for a total of 28 years when they paired Santos with longtime Patriots player and former AFL MVP Gino Cappelletti.
In 1979 they replaced Cappelletti with another former Patriots player Jon Morris and after that season Santos himself was out when the team changed flagship stations from WBZ to WEEI and then to WHDH.
In the seasons that followed he would be replaced in the booth by Carlson (7 seasons), the legendary Curt Gowdy (1 season) and then Dale Arnold (3 seasons), who would become the only broadcaster to have called all four major Boston sports teams games.
In 1991, after an 11-year absence, Santos would return to the booth to work with his former partner Cappelletti when the broadcast rights were once again awarded to WBZ. The pair would stay together until this year when Gino retired and he was replaced by former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak.
Santos along with the Philadelphia Eagles announcer Merrill Reese are the longest tenured broadcasters currently working in the NFL. Now as Gil prepares to call his 743rd Patriots game (preseason, regular season and playoffs) it is his time to step away from the microphone.
Before Sunday’s game against the Miami Dolphins the team will honor Santos and Cappelletti for their 28 years together and for Santos’ 36 seasons behind the mic. The pair will be reunited on Sunday in the booth as well as Zolak will step aside while Gil and Gino call the Patriots first drive of the game together.
It just wont be the same without Santos in the booth, for many fans he was the connection to the team in good and in bad.
In 36 years, going into Sundays season finale, Santos has called 308 Patriots wins, 246 loses and 3 ties in the regular season as well as 19 playoff wins, 13 playoff losses and that includes 6 Super Bowls.
He’d love nothing more than to finish his career by calling his seventh.
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photo credit: wbz