How the Patriots morphed from a Cape house into an NFL titan

If Mary Sullivan had had her way, the New England Patriots might never have become a reality.

The wife of Patriots founder Billy Sullivan had a dream — and a savings account to match — for a summer home on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. But her husband persuaded Mary to wait on the Cape home as he and nine partners invested $25,000 to purchase the start-up American Football League’s final franchise charter in 1959.
It was a humble beginning to a team that would, more than four decades later, become one of the NFL’s titans. But it made Sullivan, who died in 1998, the godfather of professional football in New England.

“I can’t help but think if he just drove around Boston to see how many cars have Patriots stickers on the back,” says Sullivan’s son, Patrick, the team’s general manager from 1983 to 1991.