Jim Nance, a bruising running back who twice led the American Football League in rushing while playing for the Patriots, has been elected to the franchise's Hall of Fame, the team announced today.
Nance, who played for the Patriots from 1965-71, is the 14th player and first running back elected. He was chosen for the honor by fans, who had an opportunity to vote online to elect one of three finalists -- Nance, center Jon Morris, and defensive tackle Houston Antwine.
“I am glad that the fans selected Jim Nance for this honor,” said Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “Like so many others, he was one of the reasons I became a Patriots fan. He was an attraction. He brought fans to the games and that was very important in building a loyal fan base. Four decades later, we still have many season ticket holders who became fans of the Patriots in the 1960s because of players like Jim Nance. The fact that he still holds some prominent rushing records 38 years after his playing career speaks volumes.”
Nance remains the franchise's leader in rushing touchdowns (45), and he is second on the Patriots' all-time rushing list with 5,323 yards on 1,323 carries, trailing only Sam Cunningham.
In 1966, his second season with the Patriots, he led the AFL and earned league MVP honors after setting a franchise record with 1,458 yards rushing. In the 10-year history of the AFL, Nance was the only player to eclipse the 1,400-yard plateau and his 104.1-yard rushing average per game that season remains a franchise record –- 43 years later.
Nance passed away at age 49 on June 17, 1992. He is survived by his daughter, Rachel, who will represent her father at the Patriots Hall of Fame induction ceremony the weekend of the preseason opener August 20-23.