Jim Nance

Jim Nance was born on December 30, 1942 in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Hot scalding water nearly washed out Jim Nance’s pro football career when he was only four years old. “We had one of those old stoves in our house, and my brother was boiling some hot water,” Nance explained. “When he tried to move it from the stove to the sink, I reached up and pulled his arm. I got scalded. I was in the hospital for 77 days, but I don't even remember it. Some of the water hit my head, and the doctors told me that if it had hit my eyes I would have been blinded. My left shoulder got the worst of it, and they thought it was burned so badly it wouldn't grow normally.” (1)


Jim Nance #35

Player Info

Height 6' 1"
Weight 235 lbs
DOB: 12/30/1942
Running Back



AFL Draft

1965/Round 19/Pick 6

Career Highlights

AFL All-Star

1966, 1967


AFL Single Season Rushing Record (1458)

Team(s) As A Player

Boston Patriots 1965-1970
New England Patriots 1971
New York Jets 1973


Jim Nance’s Rookie Season

After staring at Syracuse University as a football player and an All American wrestler, Nance was drafted in both the AFL Patriots in the 19th round with the 6th pick of the 1965 AFL Draft, and selected by the Chicago Bears of the NFL in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. He chose to play with the Patriots.Jim Nance joined the Patriots as a low round draft choice. During his first season he spent most of his time gaining weight instead of gaining yards. Once the scale topped 280 pounds, Nance found himself on the bench. “The weight kept going up and I didn't even notice it.” Nance said. (2)

Jim Nance League MVP

After Jim Nance was finished shedding pounds, he started shedding tacklers – or was seen bowling over them. “I got my weight down to 236,” Nance said. “I can make better, sharper cuts now. And I set my goal as being the best back in the league.” Losing the weight primed him for a breakout second season. He finished the season with 299 carries for 1458 yards (All-time AFL single season record), 4.9 yards per carry and scored 11 touchdowns. He was voted AFL MVP.

On October 30, 1966 against the Oakland Raiders, Jim Nance had a banner day. He set an AFL record with 38 carries and finished the game with 208 yards rushing and two touchdowns as the Patriots beat the Raiders 24-21. Marray Chass of the Associated Press put it this way, “Like a bulldozer in a jungle the 235-pound Nance knocked down just about everything in his way Sunday as the Patriots defeated the red-hot Oakland Raiders 24-21 for their third straight victory.” (1)

Nance Wins Second Rushing Crown

The 1967 season was more of the same for Nance, with one caveat. The Patriots’ opponents realized if they could stop Nance, the Patriots were unable to score. As a result, more and more teams started stacking the line of scrimmage with eight or nine guys in the box. “This season has been one long lesson to me,” said Nance. “I learned what it's like to be keyed on— to be a marked man.” Nance finished the season with a flurry, gaining 164 yards in 24 carries against Miami. Jim Nance, this time, ran for 1216 yards, averaged 4.5 yards per carry and scored seven touchdowns on his way to his second AFL All-Star Game. (3)

Looking Back at Jim Nance

Jim Nance was the best fullback in New England Patriots’ history. When his career came to an end in the NFL, Nance had 1341 carries for 5401 yards and 45 rushing touchdowns. He was also a devastating blocker and added 133 catches for another 870 yards and a touchdown.

By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
April 5, 2008


10-11 New England Patriots Schedule

Jim Nance Biography Sources:

(1) Jim Nance Sparks Patriots to 24-21 Win Over Oakland (1966, October 31) News Journal, Mansfield Ohio
Losing 26 Pounds Made Jim Nance (1966, December 5) Fitchburg Sentinel
AFL Figures Show Nance Holds Commanding Lead as Loop’s Rushing Champ (1967, December 20) The Danville Register, pg. 10