Monday, October 13, 2008

Fleer NFL Football Cloth Patch Stickers - New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have 4 different Fleer cloth patch helmet variations and 1 Hi-Gloss helmet sticker. The single bar variation from 1972 & 1973 is on the top. The double bar version from 1974 is on the middle left, and the 1975 version with the TM is on the middle right:

The 1976 cloth patch and Hi-Gloss sticker are on the bottom row.

According to the Beckett Guide, there is another variation of the Patriots helmet patch which has the Falcons on the smaller team name patch instead of the Vikings (patch # 27 on the checklist). However, no collector I've spoken with has ever seen this patch.

I don't think the Patriots Helmet / Falcons Name patch was ever produced. I could be wrong, but given the variations I have researched and the input I've gotten from other Fleer collectors, the fact that nobody seems to have come across this patch out of a pack seems to indicate that it may not exist.

The thing that makes me skeptical about this patch (besides the fact that nobody seems to have one!) is the fact that when you look at the entire set, the team name patches range from appearing once in the set to 3 times in the set. If there really is a Patriots Helmet /Falcons Name patch, that would mean the Falcons name was used 4 times. I don't think Fleer would have used the Falcons name on 4 separate patches when many other teams were only being used once or twice, and a few teams were used 3 times.

My theory is that the Falcons Helmet/Patriots Name patch was mistakenly mislabeled on a set list at some point with the positions reversed. I think its too much of a coincidence that the one patch that nobody seems to have just happens to be the opposite of a patch that does exist:

The most reasonable explanation seems to be that at some point when the set list was being compiled that this sticker was correctly listed as Falcons Helmet / Patriots Name (#41) but then mistakenly listed again incorrectly as Falcons Name / Patriots Helmet (#27). Since there was nochecklist produced for the set, its likely that notes about the variations may have gotten the designations mixed up.

If anyone has a Patriots Helmet / Falcons Name patch that is completely in tact and still on the original backing, please let me know as I don't want to dismiss this variation if it really exists.

Turning to the logo patches, we have Pat Patriot on the 1972-1974 version of the patch on the top

and the 1975 TM version on the bottom.

Here is the 1976 cloth patch, courtesy of Craig:

and finally, the Hi-Gloss 1976 sticker:

Just for fun, here's a look at Pat's original rendering from the AFL days when the team was known as the Boston Patriots:

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