Jan. 12, 1978

John Hannah didn’t much care for Billy Sullivan. The Patriots owner didn’t impress Hannah during their contract negotiations the previous summer, during which Hannah and Leon Gray left training camp.

The feeling, of course, was mutual. Sullivan didn’t much like being called a skinflint.

By the next year, after considering the ringing endorsement that coach Chuck Fairbanks gave the future Hall of Famer, Sullivan had a change of heart.

“He doesn’t have to like me,” Sullivan said in a Boston Globe interview. “He’s a terrific player and a good guy. He’s too valuable for us to lose.”

Hannah’s criticism was not limited to his contract. The general circus air that radiated from Foxboro, even during the good times, did not fit with Hannah’s attitude that winning required a no-nonsense approach.

Hannah stayed for the duration of his career, retiring after the Patriots appearance in Super Bowl XX.

Fairbanks eventually let the world know that Hannah may have had a point. Near the end of the 1978 season word leaked that Fairbanks had agreed to serve as head coach at the University of Colorado the following year.

Sullivan suspended Fairbanks with the team at Miami for Monday Night Football, the final game of the regular season. Sullivan lifted the suspension later in the week.

Houston visited Foxboro for the Patriots’ first-ever home playoff fame and proceeded to torch New England, 31-14.

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