Longtime Patriots wide receiver and kicker Gino “The Duke” Cappelletti died Thursday at age 89.
An original member of the Boston Patriots in 1960, Cappelletti was the American Football League’s MVP in 1964 and was inducted into the New England Patriots Hall of Fame in 1992.
“My heart aches after learning of Gino Cappelletti’s passing this morning,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a news release announcing Cappelletti’s passing. “For the first 51 years of this franchise’s history, Gino contributed as an all-star player, assistant coach and broadcaster. You couldn’t be a Patriots fan during that era and not be a fan of Gino’s. The Patriots have had many iconic, fan-favorite players over the years. Gino was the first.
“… As great of a player as he was, he was an even better person and storyteller. On behalf of my family and the entire Patriots organization, we extend our heartfelt condolences to Gino’s wife, Sandy, their three daughters, Gina, Cara and Christina, and their 10 grandchildren, as well as the many others who will be mourning his loss.”
Cappelletti was one of three players to play in every game during the AFL’s 10-year history, along with Jim Otto and George Blanda. He retired as the AFL’s all-time leader in points (1,100) and field goals (170).
A five-time AFL All-Star, he led the league in scoring five times and holds the top two scoring seasons in AFL history with 155 points in 1964 and 147 points in 1961. He holds the Patriots’ single-game record for points in a game with 28 on Dec. 18, 1965 against the Houston Oilers (four field goals, four extra points and two touchdown catches).
Cappelletti still ranks third all-time in Patriots history in scoring with 1,130 career points. He also ranks 10th with 292 receptions and 12th with 4,589 receiving yards.
Following his playing career, Cappelletti spent seven seasons (1972-78) in the broadcast booth before returning to the sidelines as the special teams coach from 1979-81. He returned to broadcasting from 1988-2011.
He was raised in Keewatin, Minn., and played college football at the University of Minnesota.