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Former Patriots starting quarterback Joe Kapp dead at age 85

Kapp spent one of his 12 professional seasons with the then-Boston Patriots.

Boston Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Joe Kapp, who spent the final season of his 12-year career as a professional quarterback with the then-Boston Patriots, has passed away. He died on Monday at age 85, the San Francisco Chronicle first reported.

Following a college career at Cal, Kapp entered the NFL as an 18th-round draft selection in 1959. He never suited up for the team selecting him, Washington, and instead took his talents north of the border to Canada. He ended up spending eight seasons in the CFL, playing for the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions.

In 1967, Kapp returned to the United States and for the next three seasons played for the Minnesota Vikings. He started 43 total games for the organization, including its loss in Super Bowl IV — the final game of his Vikings career.

With the team not offering him a new contract the following year, Kapp found his way to Boston. Signed while the season was already underway, he was unable to turn the team’s fortunes around; the Patriots went 2-12, with Kapp going just 1-9 in his 10 starts.

His one-year tenure with the team was a controversial one from the start. Entangled in a contract dispute, Boston was forced to send a 1972 first-round draft choice and safety John Charles to the Vikings in compensation for bringing Kapp aboard. While he was meant to become the highest paid player in football, he left the team after the 1970 season and his agent later filed an antitrust lawsuit against the league and its 26 teams.

The court decided in Kapp’s favor, but he ultimately was awarded no damages. He never played another down in the NFL.

After his playing career, Kapp went into acting and appeared in films such as The Longest Yard and Semi-Tough. In 1982, he returned to football to coach at his alma mater; he led the Golden Bears for five seasons. He later also coached in the Arena League and returned to Canada as the BC Lions’ general manager.

A member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, Kapp spent his final years in California. Per his son, J.J. Kapp, he fought “a 15-year battle with dementia” and will have his brain donated to UCSF for study.

“In Joe’s world everyone was family, and every day was a fiesta,” Kapp’s family wrote in an obituary shared with the Chronicle. “To the very end, he was entertaining his caregivers with rousing daily versions of ’You Are My Sunshine.’”

Kapp is survived by his wife, Jennifer, as well as four children and six grandchildren.