March 22, 1979

For lovers of soap operas with a sports genre, there have been few that can match the New England Patriot of the late 1970s.

Not that the Pats lacked the dramatic ingredients throughout the first 20 years of their existence. But nothing tops the hostilities between the Sullivan clan and Chuck Fairbanks, who brought the team a measure of respect in the middle 1970s and flushed it down one of Schaefer Stadium’s suspect plumbing fixtures on his way out the door.

On this day, the Sullivans were seeking evidence that Fairbanks had violated a court order that he refrain from performing any functions related to his preferred job as head coach at Colorado. He remained head coach and general manager of the Patriots, though he was doing absolutely nothing in that capacity.

The relationship between coach and owners had been rocky for awhile, but hit  bottom when, after Darryl Stingley’s devastating injury in 1978, the Sullivans said they wouldn’t honor the contract Stingley had negotiated with Fairbanks.

When Fairbanks announced that he’d leave the Pats with one regular-season game left on the schedule, the Sullivans suspended for one game.

Fairbanks was on the sidelines as Houston blew out New England in a first-round playoff game at Schaefer Stadium.

Colorado boosters raised enough money to buy out his contract with the Pats in April, 1979.