Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports

Gil Santos synonymous with rise of Patriots

Kyle DaLuz
April 20, 2018 - 1:09 pm

Former Patriots play-by-play announcer and Patriots Hall of Famer Gil Santos passed away Thursday on his 80th birthday. Since getting his red Hall of Fame jacket in the summer of 2013, Santos has been away from the spotlight.

Santos has not stepped into the broadcast booth at the 50-yard line facing the flying Elvis at Gillette Stadium for the past five seasons, calling his final game at the conclusion of the 2012 season when the Patriots fell to the Ravens in the AFC championship. But as a man who'd seen it all throughout his 36 years as the “Voice of the Patriots,” he lives on in Patriots lore.

Growing up in southeastern Massachusetts, when the Sunday brunch ran a little late and I was unable to get to the TV at the start of kickoff, Santos and partner Gino Cappelletti painted a picture of the game often times better than the television did. Which is no slight on the CBS, Fox and NBC announcers, but Santos was just that good.

His famous calls go hand-in-hand with some of the greatest moments of the early portion of the Patriots dynasty. 

When you walk into the Patriots Pro Shop and the Hall at Patriot Place just outside Gillette, you’ll often hear Santos billowing above about Adam Vinatieri “kicking it through the snow in overtime” against the Raiders in the 2001 Divisional Playoff, a game that essentially launched a dynasty. 

Or you may hear about Ty Law, who “took it to the house” at the end of the first half of Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams. Or better yet, you might hear arguably Santos'  greatest call, when Vinatieri nailed a 48-yard field goal at the end of Super Bowl XXXVI to give New England its first Super Bowl championship. His jubilation could not hide behind a mic.

“Snap, ball down, kick is up, kick is on the way, and it is … good! It’s good! It’s good! Adam Vinatieri hits a 48-yard field goal, and the game is over! And the Patriots are Super Bowl champions! The Patriots are Super Bowl champions! The best team in the National Football League!”

Those calls will be played over and over again on highlight reels for years to come. You’ve heard them all hundreds of times in montages, on “America’s Game,” the Patriots Super Bowl DVDs and whenever people talk about the start of the Patriots reign.

It makes you wonder just how he would have described Malcolm Butler’s game-clinching interception at the conclusion of Super Bowl XLIX, or James White plunging over the goal line to complete the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history in Super Bowl LI. Nothing against current radio announcer Bob Socci, but again, Santos' pipes were just that good. 

I never met Gil Santos, as I was getting into this business just after he had retired. I was a sophomore in high school when he called it quits, and I’m barely old enough to remember him calling the biggest and best moments of the early part of the Patriot dynasty. But everyone who met him speaks great things about him – as good a man as he was a broadcaster. 

But he was the reason I wanted to get into this business. My first dream job was to be a play-by-play man, and that was because of Santos. It was a pipe dream, sure, but he had become so synonmous with the team during his time, much like Johnny Most with the Celtics and Joe Castiglione with the Red Sox.

When you think of Keith Foulke “stabbing” a ground ball in Game 4 of the 2004 World Series, you often hear Castiglione yelling “the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions! Can you believe it?!”

When I see video of Vinatieri banging kicks through the uprights on the biggest stage, I accompany it with Santos’ call in my head.

That’s what great broadcasters do.

Comments ()