Vito "Babe" Parilli
1952 Bowman football card
No. 15, 18, 10
Personal information
Born:(1930-05-07)May 7, 1930
Rochester, Pennsylvania
Died:July 15, 2017(2017-07-15) (aged 87)
Parker, Colorado
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:196 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High school:Rochester (PA)
NFL Draft:1952 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Pass attempts:3,330
Pass completions:1,552
Passing yards:22,681
QB Rating:59.6
Player stats at · PFR

Vito "Babe" Parilli (May 7, 1930 – July 15, 2017) was an American gridiron football player. He played quarterback for five seasons in the National Football League (NFL) and three in the Canadian Football League (CFL) in the 1950s, and then in the American Football League (AFL) for all ten seasons in the 1960s.

Early years

Parilli was born and raised in Rochester, Pennsylvania, an industrial town northwest of Pittsburgh, Parilli graduated from Rochester High School in 1948.

Parilli then played college football at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, and was a quarterback for the Wildcats under head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. He was a consensus All-American in 1950 and 1951 and was fourth in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1950 and third in 1951. He led the Wildcats to victories in consecutive New Year's Day bowl games in the 1951 Sugar Bowl and 1952 Cotton Bowl.

NFL and Canada

Parilli was the fourth overall selection of the 1952 NFL draft, taken by the Green Bay Packers. He played two seasons with the Packers, two with the Ottawa Rough Riders in Canada, one with the Cleveland Browns in 1956, two more with the Packers, and another with Ottawa in 1959.


At age 30, Parilli was picked up by the Oakland Raiders of the fledgling American Football League on August 17, 1960,[1] and threw for just over 1,000 yards that season.

On April 4, 1961, he was part of a five-player trade that sent him to the Boston Patriots,[2][3] and he went on to become one of the AFL's most productive and colorful players. Playing for the Patriots from 1961 through 1967, Parilli finished his career with over 25,000 total yards and 200 touchdowns, ending among the top five quarterbacks in 23 categories such as passing yards, passing touchdowns and rushing yards. Parilli was selected for three All-Star Games. In 1964, throwing primarily to Gino Cappelletti, Parilli amassed nearly 3,500 yards passing with 31 touchdowns; the latter was a Patriots record until Tom Brady broke it in 2007. During that season's contest against the Oakland Raiders on October 16, he threw for 422 yards and four touchdown passes in a 43–43 tie. Parilli is a member of the Patriots All-1960s (AFL) Team.

Parilli completed his career with the New York Jets, where he earned a ring as Joe Namath's backup in Super Bowl III, when the Jets stunned the Baltimore Colts by a 16–7 score. Coincidentally, this gave the Jets two quarterbacks from Pennsylvania's Beaver County, with Parilli being from Rochester and Namath being from nearby Beaver Falls and both played for "Bear" Bryant in college, Namath at Alabama. In 1967, it was discovered by Life magazine that Parilli and several other professional athletes were regular patrons of Patriarca crime family mobster Arthur Ventola's major fencing operation called Arthur's Farm in Revere, Massachusetts. Despite the organized crime connection, journalist Howie Carr stated that there was never any inside information passed between Parilli and Ventola. Arthur was the uncle of mob associate Richard Castucci.

Besides his considerable skills as a quarterback, he was one of the best holders in the history of football and was nicknamed "gold-finger" as a result of kicker Jim Turner's then-record 145 points kicked in 1968 (plus another 19 points in the play-offs and in Super Bowl III). He is one of only 20 players who were in the American Football League for its entire ten-year existence, and is a member of the University of Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1982, Parilli was named to the College Football Hall of Fame.

Because of their Italian surnames, the Patriots' wide receiver-quarterback duo of Cappelletti and Parilli was nicknamed "Grand Opera."

Parilli retired as a player at the age of 40 in August 1970.[4]

Coaching career

In 1974, Parilli became the head coach of the New York Stars of the World Football League; after going bankrupt, the franchise moved to Charlotte mid-season. The next year, he was tabbed as coach of the WFL's Chicago Winds, and briefly seemed to have a chance to coach his old teammate, Joe Namath. But Namath turned Chicago down, and Parilli was replaced in late July after only two pre-season games. (The Winds would play only five regular-season contests before folding, and the rest of the WFL would collapse a few months later.) Parilli would later coach in the Arena Football League, helming the New England Steamrollers, Denver Dynamite, Charlotte Rage, Las Vegas Sting, Anaheim Piranhas and Florida Bobcats.[5]


Parilli died on July 15, 2017 in Parker, Colorado of multiple myeloma at the age of 87.[6]


Parilli was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1982.[7] On November 15, 2014, he was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.[8]

College Statistics

Season Passing
Comp Att Yards Comp% TD INT
1949 81 150 1081 54.0 8 13
1950 114 203 1627 56.2 23 12
1951 136 239 1643 56.9 19 12
Career Total 331 592 4351 55.9 50 37

See also


  1. ^ "Parilli joins Oakland Raiders". Pittsburgh Press. UPI. August 17, 1960. p. 45.
  2. ^ "Parilli is swapped to Boston Patriots". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. April 6, 1961. p. 14, part 2.
  3. ^ "Oakland trades Parilli to Patriots". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. April 5, 1961. p. 47.
  4. ^ "Babe Parilli retires from pro football". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Florida. Associated Press. August 30, 1970. p. 1C.
  5. ^ "Babe Parilli". Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  6. ^ "Babe Parilli Dies at 87; Standout Quarterback With 'Houdini Hands'". July 15, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2018 – via
  7. ^ "Parilli, Meredith among hall of fame inductees". Gadsden Times. Alabama. Associated Press. February 7, 1982. p. 39.
  8. ^ "". Retrieved April 7, 2018.