The wild, woolly programs of the early AFL

More than 50 years ago, the then-Boston Patriots were one of 8 teams in the new American Football League, a startup competitor to the established NFL. Their programs, hand-drawn and full of character, reflect their scrappy style of football, to say nothing of the spirit of local fans. A graphic designer who also happens to be a longtime AFC football fan talks about what makes them so charming.

Explained by Robert Newman
— Patriots vs. Chargers, 1963 —
About that look: “Naive and almost amateurish, and yet...”
— Patriots vs. Chiefs, 1964 —
On Phil Bissell, the former Globe cartoonist who created Pat Patriot.
— Patriots vs. Chargers, 1964 —
“A passionate fan expression” — but the team would eventually move on.
— Patriots vs. Lions, 2014 —

Courtesy New England Patriots

The new programs: more like “heroic mini-posters” than fan art.

Vintage program scans courtesy Chris Holmes of, whose compilation of vintage AFL programs can be seen here.

Chiqui Esteban/Globe Staff