Short of getting himself maimed or drafted, Boston Quarterback Babe Parilli could hardly have had a more unpleasant week. In a period of seven days—from Sunday afternoon through last Saturday night—the Patriots lost two games they could have won, Parilli threw eight interceptions and a national magazine informed America that the graying, 37-year-old Babe is friendly with some fellows whose view of jail has been from the inside looking out.
Specifically, the story in LIFE magazine identified Parilli as a patron of Arthur's Farm, Arthur Ventola, Prop. Arthur's Farm is a crowded little shop, about the size of a two-car garage, in Revere, Mass. just outside of Boston. It is near a field where the Patriots used to practice. From the shelves and bins of Arthur's Farm one may purchase stereo tapes, toys, cuff links, and dozens of other items at bargain prices. For a seeker of deals, that is a very nice thing. The trouble in Parilli's case is that he is a professional athlete and Arthur Ventola is alleged to have some sort of connection with Cosa Nostra—the mob.
Parilli has not been accused of any criminal activity but, although the Boston players deny it, the publicity attendant on his magazine mention seems to have had a deleterious effect on the Patriots' performance in their first two league games. At best, it has been indicative of their bad luck.
The Boston players had heard about the LIFE story before it appeared, but they had failed to anticipate the flap it would cause. They understood a number of them would be mentioned in the article. Their attitude was that they would absorb it as a team. It did not occur to them that notoriety would settle on just one member of the group.
"At least 20 of the Patriots, including 12 who are still with the club, have shopped at Arthur's Farm," said a source close to the team. "We figured it up the other night, and seven or eight players had been in Arthur's Farm before Parilli ever visited the place. Bill Hundley [pro football's chief investigator] knew the story was coming up. He talked to Mike Holovak, Parilli and another player and said the league had investigated and we were clean. He said the league would issue a statement absolving us when the magazine came out. The players were very disappointed at the lack of a forceful statement from the league's office."
Parilli said the thought of the forthcoming story had not bothered him going into the opening game with Denver, unless the effect was in his subconscious. However, he threw six interceptions—a career high for one game—as Boston lost 26-21. "He was pressing," said one player. "Babe wanted to win so much that it got to him."
When the pressure really got to him, though, was two days after the Denver game, on the afternoon LIFE reached the newsstands. "That was the only night I couldn't sleep," Parilli told a friend.
Among other things that worried Parilli was what his parents would think about the story. The Parillis are Italian immigrants who live in an old house in Rochester, Pa. "They won't know what to think," Parilli said.
After the story was out, Parilli placed a long-distance call from San Diego—where the Patriots went following their loss to Denver—to his wife in Boston. For hours the line was busy. Finally Parilli called a neighbor who went to the Parilli home and found that Mrs. Parilli, bothered by crank calls, had taken the phone off the hook.
The Patriots, meanwhile, were rallying around their quarterback. Defensive Captain Tom Addison, a linebacker who is also the club's player representative, wrote out a statement on a place mat he had picked up from his table in the restaurant at the Stardust Motor Hotel, where the team was staying.