The New England Patriots, commonly called the "Pats", are a professional football team based in the Greater Boston area, playing their home games in the town of Foxborough, Massachusetts at Gillette Stadium. They are members of the National Football League (NFL) as part of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the AFC East division.
An original member of the American Football League (AFL) established in 1960, the Patriots joined the NFL in the 1970 merger of both leagues. Between 2001 and 2005, the Patriots became the second team in NFL history (after the Dallas Cowboys) to win three Super Bowls in four years (Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII, and XXXIX), and the eighth to win consecutive Super Bowls. Under quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, the Patriots have also compiled the longest winning streak consisting of regular season and playoff games in NFL history, a 21-game streak from October 2003–October 2004.
During the 1996 season, the Patriots appeared at Super Bowl XXXI against the Green Bay Packers, losing 35-21. Among regular season head-to-head contests against Green Bay, the Patriots hold the edge, 5-4, however the overall series is tied 5-5 when counting Green Bay's Super Bowl XXXI victory.
On November 16, 1959, Boston business executive Billy Sullivan was awarded the eighth and final franchise of the developing American Football League (AFL). The following winter, locals were allowed to submit ideas for the Boston football team's official name. The most popular choice (and the one that Sullivan selected) was "Boston Patriots".
When the NFL and AFL merged in 1970, the Patriots were placed in the AFC East division, where they still play today. The following year, the Patriots moved to a new stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which would serve as their home for 30 years. As a result of the move, they announced they would change their name from the Boston Patriots to the Bay State Patriots. The name was rejected by the NFL and on March 23, 1971, the team officially announced they would instead become the New England Patriots.