\

Dec. 13, 1988

Patrick Sullivan’s tenure as general manager of the Patriots was hardly dull. The son of the team’s founder, Billy Sullivan, made a higher climb up the ranks than might be possible anywhere but in the kingdom of an old charter franchise of the American Football League.

Patrick began as a Patriots ball boy, became an assistant in the public relations department, then served as the manager of Schaefer Stadium, assistant general manager and, finally, general manager.

His most memorable moment as the GM may have come when he heckled Howie Long during the Patriots’ playoff win over the then-Los Angeles Raiders,  prompting Long’s teammate, Matt Millen, to belt Sullivan in the back of the head.

Sullivan remained the GM after Victor Kiam bought the team. When Boston Herald reporter Lisa Olson was sexually harassed in the team’s locker room, Kiam tried to suspend Sullivan, an apparent attempt to make him the scapegoat for the players’ cultural deficiencies. NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue killed that plan.

On the Thursday leading into the Pats’ Week 15 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Foxborough, Sullivan told reporters that only 9,000 tickets remained available. As he confessed after the fact, that was a good-sized fib; there were actually 19,000 tickets yet to be sold.

“I didn’t want people asking us why we weren’t selling more tickets,” Sullivan said in a Boston Globe interview. “I didn’t want to spend the week answering questions about it.”

By game time, a total of 43,939 tickets had been distributed, with the in-house attendance landing at 39,889.