One of the few remaining original Boston Patriots has passed away. Jack Davis, who was a guard on the 1960 Pats team, has died at the age of 80.
I first met Jack two years ago and even though his health was failing, he was bright, alert, and full of energy – the kind of fun-loving guy you wanted to be around.
When he first played at The University of Maryland he wore a helmet with one of those single face guards (think of the helmet Joe Theisman used to wear). He lined up opposite a defensive lineman on his team for a drill and the guy asked him why he was wearing that style of face guard. Jack had barely responded ‘that’s the kind that I like’ when the whistle blew; a millisecond later he was on the receiving end of a forearm shiver to his face. He told me that from that day on he wore a helmet with the full face guard, with a wry smile on his face.
Jack was drafted by the Redskins in 1958. In that training camp he met Bob Dee, and they became lifelong friends; in fact Jack was a keynote speaker at Dee’s funeral service. Dee was the first person Jack mentioned when we spoke and he obviously had a lot of respect for him and felt very highly about him.
Jack may have sang at Dee’s ceremony as well, but I’m not sure about that. I have been told by some of his friends that he had a very good voice, and on at least one occasion sang the national anthem before taking the field for a Patriots game.
Jack didn’t think much of Lou Saban, the Pats first coach at the time; that was very clear. Let’s just say that the way he described Saban was very colorful, and if it was a conversation that was being replayed on television or radio there would have been lengthy bleeps editing out his choice of words.
On the other hand he thought very highly of Mike Holovak, and had great praise for the coach. He said Holovak was a very intelligent guy who really understood the game of football, and did a very good job coaching and teaching the players. It’s probably no coincidence that the Pats were 5-9 and then 2-3 under Saban, and then suddenly turned it around with a 7-1-1 record for the remainder of the ’61 season under Holovak.
Jack brought up Gino Cappelletti and I said that I felt it was a huge oversight that he was not in the NFL Hall of Fame. That comment got Jack really fired up. With a firce look in his eyes he responded that ‘once they had the merger all the old AFL players were forgotten, as if they never existed’, angrily shaking his head. He said that he and Gino remained lifelong friends; they spoke with one another about at least once a month.
He also talked about the games in his playing days; I could sense that he was proud to have played in the very first game in AFL history.
Jack also told me that he met and talked quite a bit with Robert Kraft. He said Kraft brought him up for the big 50th team anniversary event and everything was first class. He said not only did Kraft pay for everything – he said he didn’t have to spend a penny of his own money at all the entire time he was there – but Bob also took a lot of time to talk to him (and everyone else) individually and really get to know him. He said he thought Kraft seemed to be genuinely interested in the old players as individuals; it wasn’t just a disingenuous shake your hand, nice to meet you and quickly move on type of thing.
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