Patriots couldn't host "MNF" games in 1980s because fans drank too much

Darren Hartwell

Patriots couldn't host "MNF" games in 1980s because fans drank too much originally appeared on nbcsportsboston.com

Foxboro, Mass. has been a town of terrors for visiting NFL teams in the 21st century. But a few decades ago, the majority of the devastation occurred off the field.

In 1971, the New England Patriots moved into Schaefer Stadium, which would be the team's home under various names (including Sullivan Stadium and Foxboro Stadium) before Gillette Stadium replaced it in 2002.

But the Patriots weren't all that good back then, and neither was the stadium. So, local fans found other ways to enjoy themselves.

From the New York Times' feature Saturday on the history of the Patriots in Foxboro:

When the games did go on, the crowds drank heavily, so much so that Foxborough prohibited the stadium from hosting "Monday Night Football" because of the tumult that ensued after dark. And when the Patriots were not playing, the stadium hosted dozens of rock concerts, where pervasive drug and alcohol use caused nearby hospitals to fill with patients.

The ban on "Monday Night Football" games lasted 14 years, beginning in 1981 and ending in 1995, a year after Robert Kraft bought the team. 

The original Schaefer Stadium had plenty of other problems, though. The local health board actually closed the stadium shortly after the Patriots' first game there due to "malfunctioning toilets" -- which led to some interesting troubleshooting.

Various solutions were tried, including an exercise that enlisted hundreds of volunteers to flush all of the stadium toilets simultaneously - a tactic referred to as Super Flush in the local news media. Fans came up with another name for the site: the Toilet Bowl.

The team also stunk on the field, finishing the 1971 season with a 6-8 record.

But oh how the times have changed: Gillette Stadium now abuts a sprawling outdoor shopping center in Patriot Place, and Tom Brady's Patriots have been virtually unbeatable in The House That Robert Kraft Built. They've won eight playoff games in a row in Foxboro and were the only NFL team to go 8-0 at home this season.

And yes, New England now can host night games; in fact, the team played three contests under the lights at home this season.

The Patriots are hoping home-field advantage -- and the expected frigid temperatures -- will give them a leg up Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC Divisional Round. But if they win, please celebrate responsibly, Pats fans.

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