Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Pats mourn loss of former coach Chuck Fairbanks


The New England Patriots are mourning the loss of one of their own Tuesday, as former coach and innovator Chuck Fairbanks died in Scottsdale, Ariz., after a long battle with brain cancer.

The 79-year-old coached the team from 1973 to 1978, tallying two 11-win seasons that were, at the time, the team’s best-ever finishes.

Fairbanks may be most remembered for his introduction of the 3-4, gap-style defense into the league during his tenure with the Pats, as well as his eye for draft talent. He turned the franchise around after a string of dismal seasons, bringing the first-ever home playoff game to Massachusetts at then Schaefer Stadium.

“Coach Fairbanks gave the Patriots instant credibility,” Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement via the team’s website Tuesday. “For Patriots fans of that era, Fairbanks was the Bill Parcells before Bill Parcells. Meaning, he did for the Patriots in the ’70s what Bill Parcells did for the team in the ’90s.

“It is a sad day for a generation of Patriots fans who enjoyed his era of coaching. My thoughts and prayers are with the Fairbanks family and all who mourn his loss.”

Fairbanks was 46-39 in his tenure with the team and helped draft many future stars for the team, including Hall of Famer John Hannah and New England great Sam Cunningham, to name a few. Before his time with the Pats, he posted a 52-15-1 record with the Oklahoma Sooners in a six-year stint.

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