Friday, January 4, 2013

Clip of the Week (Gil Santos edition)

I'm going to go in a totally different direction with this week's Clip of the Week, using it as an opportunity to honor one of my favorite Boston sports figures of the past 20 years (no, not Tim Wakefield, we already took care of that one).

For those of you who don't share my Boston roots (or rooting interests), you'll probably move right along and ignore this post, and that's fine. I don't blame you. But for anyone who grew up watching the Patriots transform themselves from a laughing stock into a model franchise—something I still can't believe happened, but for which I give Drew Bledsoe and Bill Parcells a ton of credit, not to mention Bob Kraft—the unavoidable soundtrack of a million Sundays was the tandem of Gil Santos and Gino Cappelletti, one of the greatest radio play-by-play pairings I've ever heard. Those two made growing up as the son of a Boston sportswriter (and thereby inheriting my Patriots fandom) significantly more enjoyable, and I can't overstate the joy I received from listening to them.

Gino retired at the beginning of this season, and Gil will retire at the conclusion of this year's playoffs. This past Sunday, during the Patriots' last regular season game, the two were re-united for one final quarter together, and the CBS national broadcast even joined the pair for a live cut-in. It was a fitting send-off for a duo that teamed up to call more than 500 games over 28 seasons, and I wanted to take a minute to pay tribute to the men who I so often listened to while watching the game on TV with the audio on mute (something I know was commonplace among Patriots fans in the good old days).

Gil was always a fair and balanced announcer, something that I think is in short supply these days. When the Patriots deserved his scorn, he was quick to deliver it—of course, those instances became increasingly less frequent as the years wore on. But at the end of the day, Gil was a Patriots fan like the rest of us in the Boston area, and he let it show for one day at least, at Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans.

For those who don't remember, the Patriots pulled off a resounding upset that day, taking down the heavily-favored St. Louis Rams (led by Marshall Faulk and Kurt Warner) on a last-second field goal by Adam Vinatieri. It was the first title in franchise history, and Gil's call of the final kick can still be heard today on various highlight packages and retrospectives.

To the greatest play-by-play announcer I'd ever hope to hear, this is my official "thank you" for decades of listening pleasure. Things won't be the same without you, and I'll honor you with this week's Clip of the Week—a compilation of clips from the radio call of that famous day in the Superdome eleven years ago. Here's hoping we can send you off in proper fashion a few weeks from now in the very same venue. Thanks for everything, Gil.

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