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James Solomon "Big Jim" Nance (December 30, 1942 – June 17, 1992) was an American collegiate and professional football 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.

Jim Nance
No. 35
Personal information
Born:December 30, 1942
Indiana, Pennsylvania
Died:June 17, 1992(1992-06-17) (aged 49)
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:260 lb (118 kg)
Career information
AFL draft:1965 / Round: 19 / Pick: 6
(by the Boston Patriots)[1]
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:5,401
Yards per carry:4.0
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR


High school careerEdit

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.[citation needed]

College careerEdit

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.

Professional careerEdit

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 leading rusher with 46 career touchdowns, 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.

Heart attack, stroke and deathEdit

Nance suffered a heart attack and stroke in 1983 and died June 17, 1992, of a heart attack.


  1. ^ "1965 AFL Draft". Archived from the original on February 25, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2017.

External linksEdit