Joe Bellino, Heisman winner and former Patriot, dies at 81

All-American halfback Joe Bellino of Navy is shown with the Heisman Trophy at a luncheon in New York on Dec. 8, 1960.
(Harry Harris / AP)

The New England Patriots say Heisman Trophy winner Joe Bellino has died.

Bellino died on Thursday at the age of 81. Neither the team nor the Heisman Trophy Trust, which reported the death on its website, specified a cause.

The Navy halfback was nicknamed the “Winchester Rifle,” after his suburban Boston hometown. In 1960, he became the first Navy player to win the Heisman. Bellino served 28 years in the Navy and naval reserves and reached the rank of captain before retiring.

Bellino was drafted by Washington of the NFL and the Boston Patriots of the AFL. After serving his military commitment, he played three seasons with the Patriots, mostly as a kick returner.


He was also offered a contract by the Pittsburgh Pirates out of high school.

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