March 28 will be remembered as a sad day for the Patriots nation following the information about the death of Joe Bellino. The former Patriots running back and 1960 Heisman Trophy winner passed on Thursday.
Bellino was born March 13, 1938, in Winchester, Mass. He was a brilliant three-sport athlete at Winchester High School and played college football at the United States Naval Academy. He was halfback and defensive back. Bellino was a three-year letter winner on Navy’s baseball team. He won the 1960 Heisman Trophy at Navy before his four-year service.
When Bellino entered the world of NFL, he made it as 17th round pick of the 1961 NFL Draft and joined the Washington Redskins. Bellino was also picked in the 19th round of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Boston Patriots. The former running back decided to play for his hometown team and spent three years with the Patriots from 1965 to 1967, taking the role of kickoff returner. Bellino knew the Navy was his home and returned there for a 28-year service. He retired as a Captain.
Retired Bellino returned to Massachusetts turning himself into a successful businessman who was an active member in the connunity. In 1977, Bellino was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Fourteen years later, in 1991, Bellino became the first inductee into the Winchester Sports Foundation Hall of Fame. He is one of the five Heisman Trophy winners to play for Pats, alongside QB John Huarte, QB Jim Plunkett, QB Doug Flutie and QB Vinny Testaverde.
Retired Adm. Ed Straw was one of the closest friends Bellino had.
“I couldn’t believe it and I was devastated. I’m very, very sad. My heart is broken,” Straw said of the death of his friend. “Joe was the finest gentlemen I’ve ever known. This man had no ego and treated everyone like he’d known them for 10 years. This is an incredible loss to his friends, family and classmates.”
“Joe was an incredible role model for the entire Naval Academy and what it means to live an honorable, ethical life,” said Tom White, Bellino’s roommate in Bancroft Hall. “Joe was the same person from the time I met him plebe year until the end. He never changed. Joe treated everyone with respect, regardless of their position in life.”