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Red Sox and Patriots Headliners Past and Present by Doug Cutler Jr.

By Patriots Blog Writer Doug Cutler Jr.

First, a word about Tim Wakefield

On Friday Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield will become the club’s all-time leader in starts. Currently he is tied with Roger Clemens with 382. At this point, it isn’t inconceivable that Wakefield will retire with over 400 starts for the Red Sox.

To put this into perspective, consider some notable contemporaries and their start totals for a single team. Specifically, let’s go right to the top of the class and compare Wakefield’s (soon to be) total of 383 starts for the Sox with the great longtime trio of Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, and Tom Glavine. They have 363, 466, and 518 starts, respectively, for the Atlanta Braves. For additional historical perspective, Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Seaver has 395 starts for the New York Mets.

Red Sox nation has been fortunate to witness perseverance, performance, and class from Mr. Wakefield since his arrival in 1995. Tomorrow night you can add “record setting” to that list as well.

“The best I ever saw” (Part six of a series)

The selection this week was a difficult choice, however nonetheless I believe this player is the best receiver in a crowded field of candidates. Stanley Morgan is indeed the best receiver I ever saw in a New England Patriots uniform and it’s a shame he hasn’t generated more discussion for admission into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Morgan began his 13 year career with the Patriots in 1977 and retired in 1990 with 10,716 yards receiving after playing one season with the Indianapolis Colts. In each of his first six seasons he averaged at least 20 yards per catch with four of those seasons having an average of better than 22. His highest average of 24.1 yards per catch came in his second season in the NFL. For comparison, Randy Moss’ highest single season average is 19.0 yards. In fact, Morgan’s career average of 19.2 yards per catch exceeds Moss’ best individual season. Considering that Moss is one of the most feared and respected speedsters of the last dozen years or so should put Morgan’s accomplishment into better focus.

Another perspective can be gained by comparing Morgan’s performances to the peers of his day, specifically those who were elected to the hall after finishing their careers. Consider Charlie Joiner, the “great” wide receiver known mostly for his days playing catch with fellow hall resident Dan Fouts. Before landing in San Diego, Joiner never even got close enough to smell a 1,000 yard receiving season, let alone have one. Even after being air-dropped into the legendary blitzkrieg known as “Air Coryell,” Joiner’s statistics weren’t appreciably better than Morgan’s, who was never on what anyone would refer to as an “explosive” offense.

During his career, Joiner caught two or less touchdowns per season an astounding seven times, with three of those seasons being completely shut out of the end-zone. Comparatively, Morgan only had one season with two or less TDs. In the end, Morgan bests Joiner in career TDs (72 vs. 65) and career yards per catch (19.2 vs. 16.2). Not to mention that even with trigger man Fouts throwing the ball to him, Joiner’s best single season (70 receptions, 1,188 yards, seven TDs) isn’t in the same class as Morgan’s (84, 1,491, 10).

The one signature play I will always remember Morgan for came in the final regular season game of 1986. The Patriots were fighting for a playoff spot in Miami against the hated Dolphins on Monday Night Football. A win and they’d make the postseason, a loss and they’d pack up for the winter, allowing the upstart Cincinnati Bengals to take their place in the Super Bowl tournament. During a back and forth game in which starting QB Tony Eason separated his shoulder trying to make a tackle after an interception, the Patriots and ‘Phins traded scores like drunken sailors swapping shore leave stories. Just before the clock struck midnight (both literally and figuratively), with the Aqua men desperately trying to hold on to a 27-all tie, Steve Grogan tossed a perfect ball on a streaking, fading Morgan. Morgan caught the ball as he dove across the goal line near the pylon for a 30 yard touchdown and the win.

Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels yelled into his microphone, “Grogan to throw it, throws it deep to Morgan…who’s got it…for a touchdown!”

I can still see the Dolphins cornerback walking away from the play in disgust, throwing his arms up as if to say, “This is b******t.”

Interesting statistic I’ll bet you didn’t know

Since 1975, there have been only eight seasons in which Steve Grogan, Drew Bledsoe, or Tom Brady have not been season passing leaders for the Patriots.

Answer to last week’s question:

Out of the top 30 single-season scoring leaders in Patriots history, only two players who make the list are non-kickers (Randy Moss and Curtis Martin).

Question of the week:

Who was the last Patriots head coach to serve only one season in that capacity?

(Answer will be provided next week)


  1. Great article, Doug!

    Curtis Martin's one of my alltime favorite players.

    "Since 1975, there have been only eight seasons in which Steve Grogan, Drew Bledsoe, or Tom Brady have not been season passing leaders for the Patriots."

    That is amazing. I had no idea.

    You've got to tip your hat to Wakefield, and I would not have guessed he could ever pass Roger in Boston.

    This was an extremely fun article to read.


  2. Parcells was there for more than a I can only go back to (Carrol) or McPhearson? Wake is a heart wrencher sometimes, he's HOT or COLD, but I suppose with those numbers he's been more consistant than I think. Irving Fryer was great for a while, Hart Lee Dykes had potential (hahaha), their receivers now are awesome....but Stanley Morgan was by far the best the Pats ever had at receiver.

  3. I can agree with Morgan being the best, but I also loved Fryar's kick-returning abilities. He was a threat in just more than one way.

    He was phenominal at Nebraska and just carried it over to the Pats.


  4. Irving Fryar definitely had talent, unfortunately for the Patriots his lack of maturity got in the way far too often. It wasn't until he left New England before he got his life in order and didn't have off-the-field issues hanging over him all the time.

    Remember the "fork in the road and a knife in the kitchen" jokes before and during Super Bowl XX?