James Solomon "Big Jim" Nance (December 30, 1942 – June 17, 1992) was an American professional football
player who was a fullback
with the Boston Patriots
during their days in the American Football League
(AFL). He was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame
in 2009. He played college football
for the Syracuse Orangemen
High school career
Wrestling for the Indiana, PA
high school, Nance was a two time Pennsylvania heavyweight champion in 1960 and 1961. It is said that the PIAA (PA's governing body) added the heavyweight class to accommodate Nance, who was too large for their highest weight class in 1959, which was 185 pounds.
Starting for three years at Syracuse University
, Nance tied the school record for career touchdowns (13) and led the Orangemen
in rushing in 1964, scoring in ten straight games. In 1963 and 1965 Jim Nance was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion and received All-America honors.
Nance was also a Two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Heavyweight (1963 and 1965)
Nance was a 19th round selection of the Boston Patriots in the 1965 AFL Draft
, as well as a 4th round selection of the Chicago Bears
in the 1965 NFL Draft
. Nance signed with the Patriots. Though his rookie season was unimpressive, he led the AFL in rushing the next two seasons. He went on to become the only AFL player ever to rush for more than 1,400 yards in a season. At 6-1 and 260 pounds, Nance was a powerful fullback who carried 299 times in 1966, for 11 touchdowns and 1,458 yards. That season, he rushed for 208 yards and two touchdowns in a 24–21 victory over the Oakland Raiders
Nance was an American Football League All-Star
in 1966, when he also received the league's Most Valuable Player
award, and an All-Star
again in 1967 when he became the only AFL player to have consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards, this time 1,216. He retired as the Patriots' all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 45, a record he still holds.
In 1972, he was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles
but refused to play for them, temporarily retiring. He joined the New York Jets
the following year.
In 1974, Nance played with the Houston Texans/Shreveport Steamer
of the World Football League
, rushing for 1,240 yards. In 1975, he ran for 767 yards before the WFL folded. He is the all-time leading rusher in the WFL with 490 carries for 2,007 yards and a 4.1 average. He rushed for 15 touchdowns in his WFL career.
Nance suffered a heart attack and stroke in 1983. He died on June 17, 1992, of a heart attack in Quincy, Massachusetts
The Pennsylvania Football News All-Century Team
– ''New York Times''
Category:American Football League Most Valuable Players
Category:American Football League All-Star players
Category:American football running backs
Category:Players of American football from Pennsylvania
Category:Boston Patriots players
Category:New England Patriots players
Category:New York Jets players
Category:Houston Texans (WFL) players
Category:Shreveport Steamer players
Category:American Football League rushing leaders
Category:People from Indiana, Pennsylvania
Category:Syracuse Orange football players
Category:New England Patriots announcers
Category:National Football League announcers
Category:American Football League players