Longtime Patriots radio color analyst Gino Cappelletti has officially retired after 32 years of calling games, according to one report, and his long-time play-by-play partner, Gil Santos, will be embarking on his final year in the booth after revealing a life-threatening experience following last season, according to another report.
The 78-year-old Cappelleti and the 72-year-old Santos have partnered calling Patriots games on the radio for 28 years, including the past 21 consecutively. But the color analyst has decided to retire his pipes, according to the Boston Globe.
“Through five decades, my romance with football and my relationship with the Patriots organization have provided me with a lifetime of wonderful memories,” Cappelletti said in a statement released to the Globe.
Before embarking on the Patriots’ radio gig, Cappelletti played 11 seasons for the Patriots as a receiver, kicker and defensive back. His career began in 1960, the team’s inaugural season in the AFL, and he was named to five All-Star teams and was the league’s all-time leading scorer.
“I have had the privilege of sharing the broadcast of six Super Bowls, and amazingly, five in the past decade,” the statement continued. "The memory of the first Super Bowl victory will always be fresh in my mind. For me, it serves as a special reminder of how far this franchise has come, the challenges that were met, and the adversity we faced in those early years. But as they say in the huddle after a long, successful day’s work, it’s time to take a knee and celebrate the win.’’
Former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak is expected to take Cappelletti’s place in the booth, according to the Globe, though that move is not official. Zolak had joined Patriots radio broadcasts in a sideline role last season.
The 72-year-old Santos, meanwhile, told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that this will be his 36th and final season as the Patriots’ radio play-by-play man.
He revealed to the newspaper that as of about a month ago he wasn’t sure whether he would return this season because he was still recovering from a harrowing ordeal at the end of last season.
After the AFC Championship Game, Santos told the Telegram, he shook uncontrollably for an hour due to illness, but felt better after taking a hot shower. He said he did not follow his wife’s suggestion to go to the emergency room.
Santos still had a cold after the Super Bowl and again ignored his wife’s plea to go to a doctor, he told the newspaper.
Then, on a Feb. 24 trip to a diner, after Santos staggered out of the men’s room, an ambulance was called.
Santos told the Telegram he had double pneumonia on one lung, single pneumonia in the other, blood poisoning and a pulmonary obstruction that had him on a ventilator in intensive care for three weeks and hospitalized for another month. He then spent the next six weeks at a rehab center, where he had to learn to use his arms and legs again.
Santos said he was read his last rites three times during the ordeal, but he doesn’t remember a lot of it.
“They thought I was going to check out,” Santos told the Telegram. “Obviously, I didn't. I don't remember any of it.”
Santos left the rehab center with the help of a walker on May 19. He is expected to be in the booth in time for the Patriots’ first preseason game Aug. 9.