Dec. 6, 1973

After less than two seasons on the job, Upton Bell was fired as general manager of the Patriots.

Not that the Pats flourished under Bell’s regime: They went 6-8 in 1971, a better record than expected, then slid to 2-10 when Bell was fired. Coach John Mazur was fired after a 52-0 loss to Miami on Nov. 12.

The Patriots made a temporary hiring after Mazur’s firing. Phil Bengston, a longtime assistant to Vince Lombardi and his successor in Green Bay, came on with the understanding the understanding that he had no interest in taking on the Pats’ job permanently.

Bell wanted more control than owner Billy Sullivan was willing to give him. Sullivan wanted to hire a combination head coach/general manager and did so in 1973 when he hired Chuck Fairbanks away from the University of Oklahoma.

Fairbanks went 46-41 during his Pats tenure, which ended in 1978. New England won the AFC East that season, but Sullivan suspended him before the final regular season game because Fairbanks had agreed to take over as head coach at the University of Colorado.

Ron Erhardt took over, and the Pats hosted their first playoff game ever at Schaefer Stadium. They lost to Houston, 31-14.

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