A historical look at the uniform numbers for the new Patriots: #29, Roy Finch and Malcolm Butler

We are in the dead zone of the NFL year folks, that time between the finish of draft and the start of training camp. With the exception of the one day a week that the media has access to organized team activities, there’s not much to go over that hasn’t already been over-analyzed – so with that in mind here is the ninth in a series of historical perspectives at who has previously worn the uniform number of the 2014 additions to the roster of the New England Patriots. Unless noted otherwise all the players listed took part in at least one regular or playoff game in the season listed for the Patriots.

Roy Finch and Malcolm Butler are the latest members of the Pats to don the number 29; here is a look at those who have preceded them to wear that jersey over the years during the franchise history of the Patriots.

 

29 – Running Back Roy Finch

– Finch averaged 5.4 yards per carry in his four-year career at Oklahoma (262 carries, 1,412 yards), with 5.9 yards per carry his senior year (59 carries, 347 yards). He also returned had 43 career kickoff returns, for 1,099 yards and a touchdown. Due to his size (he was measured at 5′ 6½”, 177 pounds at his pro day) and an ankle injury, he didn’t get a lot of playing time in college, and his best shot at making the team will be as a return man and possibly a third down back. Finch ran the 40 in 4.50 seconds and the three-cone in 7.07 seconds, the latter a time that would have ranked him 10th best among running backs at the combine. Finch thinks that the Patriots are getting an “exciting player“, and he seems to be somebody worth keeping an eye on once training camp opens up to the public.

 

29 – Cornerback Malcolm Butler

– Butler was one of four players from West Alabama signed as rookie free agents with NFL teams this spring. He was a first team All-Gulf South Conference corner the last two years, leading the conference in passes defended (18), while registering 45 tackles and two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. Butler also played on special teams, where he blocked a kick and averaged 27.9 yards on 13 kickoff returns.

 

 

2013: RB LeGarrette Blount

– After two years in junior college, Blount rushed for 1,002 yards and a school record 17 touchdowns as a junior at Oregon in 2008. At the beginning of his senior season he was expected to be an early draft pick, but that all changed very quickly. In the first game of his senior year he was in an ugly incident, where he sucker punched a Boise State player at the end of the game and then needed to be restrained by police and team staff to keep from going after fans. Blount was suspended and was not reinstated until the final two games, and no NFL teams wanted to take him in the 2010 draft.

Jeff Fisher signed Blount and he initially made the 53-man roster, but was released prior to the first game of the season. Tamp Bay claimed him off waivers, and he rushed for 1,007 yards and six touchdowns his rookie season. Blount made some highlight reel plays that year, hurdling over would be tacklers as if he was a lot lighter than 245 pounds. The next year he ran for 781 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.2 yards per carry, as the 4-12 Bucs found themselves having to throw more often than they had the previous season. In 2012 Greg Schiano replaced Raheem Morris as head coach, and went with rookie Doug Martin (319 carries) almost exclusively, with Blount getting only 41 carries. On the final day of the 2013 draft the Bucs traded Blount and a seventh round pick to the Patriots for Jeff Demps.

With Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Leon Washington, Brandon Bolden, George Winn and fullback James Develin competing for what would probably be four roster spots, many did not think Blount would make the 53-man roster when training camp began. Blount proved the doubters wrong by making the squad, and between Shane Vereen’s injury and Stevan Ridley’s fumbles, Blount’s playing time increased. He averaged about 7-8 carries a game until late in the season; 51 of his 153 regular season rushes came in the final three games. In week 15 Blount had 16 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns against Baltimore, all season highs for him, and then topped that the next week with 24 rushes for 189 yards and two touchdowns, plus two kick returns for 145 yards against Buffalo. That carried over to the playoffs, where he ran 24 times for 166 yards and four touchdowns in the 43-22 victory against Indianapolis.

In that three-week span Blount rushed for 431 yards and eight touchdowns, as the Patriots prepared for the conference championship against Denver. Unfortunately the Pats could not contain Denver nose tackle Terrance Knighton, and Blount gained just six yards on five first half carries. Down 20-3 at that point, the Patriots virtually abandoned the run; that turned out to be the final game for Blount as a Patriot. He signed a two-year, $3,850,000 contract, including a $950,000 signing bonus, with Pittsburgh as an unrestricted free agent. With the Steelers he is expected to once again get about six to eight carries a game, backing up Le’Veon Bell.

Blount finished his one year with the Patriots with 772 yards rushing and seven touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards per carry. He also had two receptions for 38 yards, and averaged 29.1 yards on 17 kickoff returns for a total of 1,304 all-purpose yards. The rushing yardage ranks 32nd for a single season in Pats history, the touchdowns are tied for 21st-best, and the all-purpose yards is 34th best in a single season. He set a franchise record for most touchdowns in a playoff game with four against the Colts, and his 166 yards rushing in that game tied Curtis Martin for the team record for the most in a post-season game.

 

2011-12: CB Sterling Moore

– Moore went undrafted out of Southern Methodist, and originally signed with the Raiders in 2011. The Patriots signed him to their practice squad on October 5, 2011, and he was promoted the roster, three times during that season. He appeared in six regular season games with three starts at safety, and also played in all three playoff games. In week 17 against the Bills he had two interceptions, one for a touchdown, and was named NFL Rookie of the week.

Two weeks later Moore made his signature play for which he will always be remembered. In the AFC Championship game against Baltimore, the Ravens had the ball on the New England 14-yard line with time running out, and the Pats up by three. Baltimore appeared momentarily to have scored the game-winning touchdown on a pass in the end zone to Lee Evans, but Moore stripped the ball just before Evans could gain control. Two plays later Billy Cundiff badly shanked a chip-shot field goal, and the Patriots won, 23-20.

Moore was limited with a knee injury in 2012. He was released on October 31 when the club signed safety Derrick Martin. The Pats signed him to their practice squad two days later, and the Dallas Cowboys signed him off the practice squad to their roster on December 1. Dallas let him go at the end of training camp in 2013, and re-signed him in late November.

While with the Patriots, Moore played a total of 14 games with three starts – but it will be his one play in one playoff game for which he will always be remembered in New England.

 

2010: CB Tony Carter

– There was another Tony Carter who started 29 games for the Patriots at fullback from 1998-99, but this one is a corner who has spent most of his NFL career in Denver. At Florida State he had 139 tackles, nine interceptions, 26 passes defensed, and scored four touchdowns (three interceptions and one fumble). The Broncos signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2009; he spent most of that season on their practice squad, and appeared in two games with one fumble recovery.

After being released with an injury settlement in 2010, the Patriots signed Carter to their practice squad in early September. He spent 13 games on the PS before being promoted to the roster in mid-December; Carter appeared in two games for the Pats. At the beginning of training camp he was released, hardly being noticed in a group of cuts that included Tully Banta-Cain, Nick Kaczur, Alge Crumpler and Ty Warren.

The Vikings signed him but he was again released at the end of camp, and then Denver re-signed him to their practice squad at the end of November. He ended up playing the final three regular season games and both playoff games for the Broncos, and had a special teams tackle in the 45-10 loss to the Patriots. The last two seasons Carter has seen more playing time, appearing in 27 games with two starts. He also played a key part in New England’s 34-31 comeback victory over the Broncos last year. The Patriots punted in overtime, and return man Wes Welker made a ‘poison’ call to alert his teammates to get out of the way, but the signal was made far too late. The ball hit Carter, Nate Ebner recovered, and Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game winning field goal as the Patriots recovered from a 24-0 deficit to defeat the Broncos.

Trivia: Tony was one of three players with the last name Carter to be with the Patriots in 2011. The other two? Sixth-round draft pick Markell Carter, and veteran free agent pick-up Andre Carter.

 

2009: CB Shawn Springs

– Springs was selected third overall out of Ohio State in the 1997 draft by the Seahawks. He spent seven years in Seattle and five in Washington, and went to one Pro Bowl. With Tom Brady returning from his knee injury in 2009, the Patriots seemed to try and put together a Super Bowl run by bringing in a lot of veterans. Springs, Alex Smith, Joey Galloway, Greg Lewis and Chris Baker – and all had at best a limited return on investment for the Pats. Springs reportedly had a less than stellar attitude on a team that had poor chemistry. Springs was one of five players to be sent home after arriving late for a team meeting, and when reporters later surrounded Adalius Thomas for interviews and comments, Springs sarcastically said “Sorry A.D.” in a high-pitched voice. With the comment being made in front of all the media, the presumed interpretation was a mocking of Bill Belichick and his rules; Springs ended up being inactive for four games, many of which some people speculated he was healthy enough to play in. Late in the season Springs threw Brandon Meriweather under the bus for blown coverage on a play, and the Patriots released him early in the 2010 off-season.

In twelve games with the Patriots, Springs had one interception, four passes defensed, and 35 tackles. Over 13 NFL seasons he played in 169 games with 155 starts, 33 interceptions, 84 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and six fumble recoveries. The 2009 season was a disappointment for Pats fans, finishing 10-6; Springs never played on an team with a better record during his NFL career. His release was thought by some to be addition by subtraction.

 

2008: CB Lewis Sanders

– Sanders was a solid return man (two kickoff returns for touchdowns) and defensive back (ten interceptions) at Maryland, and was taken by the Browns in the fourth round, 95th overall, in the 2000 draft. He spent four seasons with Cleveland, two with Houston and one with Atlanta; he was never a starter, but got plenty of playing time as a third back.

The Patriots signed the 30-year old Sanders as a veteran free agent at the tail end of his NFL career in 2008. The previous season he had finished the year on IR with a torn pec; his deal was for only one year with a modest $40,000 signing bonus and $730,000 base salary. Sanders had a solid training camp, and looked to be on the verge of being a starter opposite Ellis Hobbs. However, he had a head injury and then a hamstring injury, and then a shoulder injury. Sanders played in ten games with four starts, but could have played more in place of Deltha O’Neal had he been able to stay on the field. He finished the year with 22 tackles, one fumble recovery and one pass defensed, and was not offered a new contract by the Patriots in 2009.

In eight years in the NFL he played in 97 games with 29 starts, with five interceptions, 22 passes defensed, 3 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles, and 196 total tackles. Since then he has become a firefighter, and was inducted into the Staten Island Sports Hall of Fame.

 

2007: CB Eddie Jackson

– Over four years in the NFL, Jackson played in 42 games, three of which were for the Patriots. He was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent out of Arkansas by Carolina in 2004. With the Razorbacks he played both corner and safety, and also was a track and field All-American, running the hurdles. He played ten games for the Panthers in ’04, and 29 games over the next two seasons with Miami.

He tore his ACL late in 2006, and the Pats – perhaps under the recommendation of former Miami head coach Nick Saban – signed the special teamer to a two-year deal with no signing bonus. Jackson began training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and on August 30 he was placed on the Reserve/PUP list, which meant he would miss at least the first six weeks of the season. He started practicing in mid-October and was activated off PUP – along with Chad Jackson – on Novemeber 7. Jackson appeared in his first game for the Pats in week 11, November 18 against the Bills. He also played the next week against the Eagles, but was inactive for both of the next games. Jackson played in week 15 against the Jets, but was waived three days later on December 19 to make room for DT Rashad Moore. He signed with Washington the following off-season, but was released before the start of training camp. In 2013 Jackson appeared on the Fox reality show, MasterChef.

 

2006: CB Chidi Iwuoma

– Undrafted out of Cal, Iwuoma originally signed as a rookie free agent with Detroit in 2001. After three weeks on the practice squad, he was promoted and appeared in 13 games for the Lions. Iwuoma signed with Pittsburgh in 2002, and played there for four seasons. Twice he was a special teams co-captain with the Steelers, and he was a standout on coverage teams. Pittsburgh re-signed him to a three-year contract in 2004 and in 2005 he appeared in all 16 games; however, he was slowed down by shoulder, ankle and glute injuries. The physical mayhem of special teams was taking its toll on his 5′ 8″ frame. In 2006 he was limited in minicamp due to the shoulder injury, and he suffered a concussion in the final preseason game; a week later the Steelers released him.

The Patriots signed the special teams ace on October 4th, but the injuries had slowed him down, and after three games in New England the Pats released him. He bounced around between the Rams, Steelers and Titans, but appeared in only three more NFL games. Iwuoma played in 77 NFL games over seven years, with 63 tackles, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He went back to Cal and for four years worked as their Assistant Director of Student-Athlete Development, and is now a scout for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

2005-06: S Guss Scott

– Scott was a Senior Bowl participant after a strong career at the University of Florida, and was drafted by the Patriots in the third round, 95th overall in the 2004 draft. The Patriots wanted to sign him to a five-year contract with a $625,000 signing bonus, but agent Drew Rosenhaus didn’t want a deal that long, looking ahead to free agency (and another commission). He had Scott instead sign a one-year contract for the rookie minimum of $230,000 – and Scott injured his knee in the second pre-season game, and after five games was placed on injured reserve on October 19.

The Pats re-signed Scott to a $350,000 contract the following March, but he was injured again in the 2006 training camp. He was released at the end of training camp on September 2nd, and finished his career with the Patriots with five games played, two starts, and 21 tackles and six assists. The Texans claimed him off waivers but he was inactive (six games) more often as he made an appearance (five games), and they released him. Before the 2006 season ended he spent about a week each on the practice squads of the Jets and Seahawks – as well as the Patriots, who re-signed him on the same day they released WR Doug Gabriel – but Scott never again played in an NFL game.

With Rodney Harrison and Eugene Wilson already entrenched at the position, Scott wasn’t expected to start – but he was still expected to see plenty of playing time as part of a three-man rotation, and first player to step in when the inevitable injury sidelined a starter. More than the injuries, his biggest liability may have been that he was simply a ‘tweener: not big enough to excel against the run, but not fast enough in pass coverage. As a third round pick, his minimal contributions were certainly a disappointment for Patriot fans.

 

2004: CB Earthwind Moreland

– Undrafted out of Georgia Southern, Moreland originally signed with Tampa Bay, but the Bucs released him out of camp. The Jets claimed him off waivers, but he made only one appearance in his rookie season. The next year he was traded to New Orleans, and a week later he was waived – and claimed by Jacksonville. The Jags let him go a month later and he was signed by Cleveland, and in 2002 they allocated him to the Rhein Fire of NFL Europe. He spent one year on IR and another on the Browns pratcie squad, playing only two NFL games with Cleveland in his three years with the organization.

On August 5, 2004, the Pats signed Morris, but released him at the end of camp. He spent some time with Minnesota’s practice squad, was cut, and re-signed to the New England practice squad. In 2004 the Patriots were desperate for help in the secondary due to injuries, and he joined Troy Brown as a defensive back for the Pats. In the 2004 championship season Moreland played in nine games for the Pats, with two starts. His mother’s fondness of the 1970s R&B band made Moreland as memorable for his name as he did for his play on the field.

 

2003: S Aric Morris

– Tennessee drafted Morris in the fifth round, 135th overall, in the 2000 draft. The Michigan State Spartan played three years for the Titans, appearing in 47 games with ten starts.

The Pats signed Morris in May of the 2003 season, and he stuck on the roster out of training camp. Morris was on the New England roster for the first five weeks of the 2003 season, playing in all but the first game. In his first game, week two at Pahiladelphia, he had a 33-yard interception and three tackles. He was released on October 7 to make room for fullback Fred McCrary.

 

2002: S Chris Hayes

– Hayes was a was two-time All-Pac 10 selection, and a Butkus Award finalist as an outside linebacker at Washington State. The Jets selected him in the seventh round, 210th overall, in the 1996 draft. He was waived at the end of camp, and spent time on the practice squad with Washington and Green Bay. The next year the Packers traded him back to the Jets, and he played 78 games with New York over five seasons. After the Jets released him, the Pats signed Hayes in March of 2002; he ended up playing four games for New England in what turned out to be the final season of his NFL career. Hayes now works with a company that assists athletes and coaches in reaching their potential not only in sports, but also in life by focusing on money management in addition to physical training and nutrition.

 

2001: LB Hakim Akbar

– A second-team All-American strong safety at the University of Washington, Akbar was selected by the Patriots in the fifth round (163rd overall) of the 2001 draft. In his senior year with the Huskies he had 91 tackles, six interceptions, three fumble recoveries and seven forced fumbles. He played six games for the Patriots in 2001, but in November he suffered a spinal injury and nearly died when he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. Akbar was thrown from the vehicle and spent a month in the hospital, being fed through an IV, with three fractured vertebrae, broken ribs and an injured hip and shoulder.

From 2002-07, Akbar spent time with the Texans, Rams, Bucs, Jaguars, and also was in the CFL and NFL Europe. He played in ten games in the NFL, and was also inactive for seven games.

 

2000: RB Raymont Harris

– After rushing for 2,649 yards at Ohio State – at the time the 6th best in school history – Harris was drafted in the fourth round, 114th overall, in the 1994 draft by Chicago. He rushed for 464 yards as a rookie, but missed virtually all of 1995 with a broken collarbone. In 1996 he rebounded with 748 yrds rushing and 296 yards receiving, with five total touchdown.s The next season was his best, as he rushed for 1,033 yards and ten touchdowns, and totaled 1,148 yards from scrimmage.

Harris signed with division rival Green Bay as a free agent, but in two seasons he missed 24 games with injuries and only ran for 228 yards. The Patriots signed him on on Feb. 14, 2000, after the Packers released him, but he did not make the roster out of training camp. He later signed with Denver and played two games for the Broncos before they too released him. The Patriots brought Harris back early in December, and he had 14 yards on three carries with two receptions for one yard against his original NFL team, the Bears. Harris was a game-day inactive the next week against Buffalo, and was released on the same day the club suspended Ty Law for his border arrest following that game against the Bills.

Harris finished his NFL career with 2,509 yards rushing and 739 yards receiving, but by the time Patriots signed him his 30-year old body was showing the effects of too many injuries. He has since returned to Ohio State, where he is employed in the Athletic Department as Director of Development, responsible for fund raising projects.

 

1997-98: RB/KR Derrick Cullors

– Cullors was a running back who transferred to Murray State after not receiving much playing time at TCU. Undrafted in 1996, he signed with Baltimore but did not make their roster. The Pats signed him to their practice squad for the ’96 season.

In 1997 Cullors was on the roster and he dressed for all but one game, but he had only 22 carries and two receptions. His lone touchdown came on one of his 15 kick returns, and 86-yarder versus Buffalo. Then in the playoffs against Miami, Cullors was called upon in the second half due to an injury to Curtis Martin. Cullors responded with 86 yards on 22 carries; that allowed the Patriots to chew up the clock and also set up a field goal, as they defeated the Dolphins 17-3. The next game didn’t go quite so well; Cullors had 18 yards on seven rushes at Pittsburgh, as the Steelers won 7-6.

The following season Martin was gone, but Cullors still got little playing time. Robert Edwards carried the ball nearly 300 times, and Cullors had only 18 rushing attempts – and that was it for him in the NFL. He finished his career with the Patriots with 149 yards rushing and 154 yards receiving in 31 regular-season games; he also had 60 kick returns, averaging 24.5 yards per return, with one touchdown. In addition he had 104 yards rushing and 18 yards receiving in three playoff games, with seven kickoff returns at an average of 14.6 yards.

 

1994-95: S Myron Guyton

– Guyton was drafted in the 8th round (218th overall) of the 1989 NFL Draft, out of Eastern Kentucky. With the exception of time missed due to an injury in 1992, he started all but three games in his seven-year NFL career. Guyton was one of ‘Parcells’ guys’, who followed the head coach from New York to New England. In his two seasons with the Patriots he had five interceptions and four fumble recoveries, and also recovered an onsides kick. After the 1995 season, Guyton was forced to retire at the age of 28 due to back and neck injuries.

 

1991: S Darrell Fullington

– Raised in one of my favorite places, New Smyrna Beach, Fullington went to college at Miami. As a member of the Hurricanes, he was a key player in the wrong side of one of the greatest comebacks in college history. Miami was crushing Maryland, up 31-0 at the half on November 10, 1984. The Terrapins drew a bit of incentive from the ‘Canes attitude, and Frank Reich replaced Stan Gelbaugh at quarterback in the second half – and threw six touchdown passes. Maryland took the lead on a pass that Fullington got his hands on but could not hold on to – and it bounced into the arms of a Maryland receiver for the go-ahead touchdown in the 4th quarter, as the Terrapins went on to win, 42-40.

The Vikings selected Fullington in the fifth round (124th overall) of the 1988 NFL Draft. He was with Minnesota for three years, appearing in all but one game with 13 starts at free safety, with five interceptions. The Patriots signed him in 1991, but after being burnt one too many times they waived him on September 30. Fullington had appeared in five games for the Patriots, with no other stats.

Tampa Bay claimed him a day later off waivers, and he spent the rest of the season as their nickel back – with interceptions in each of the first two games after he left New England. He started at free safety in 1992 for the Bucs, but that was his final season in the NFL. In five years in the league he played in 79 games, with 26 starts and ten interceptions.

 

1990: RB Don Overton

– Overton entered the NFL in 1989 as an undrafted free agent from Fairmont State University, and is the last of three players from the Virginia school to have appeared in the NFL. He finished his college career with the Falcons with 3,450 yards rushing and 282 points, school records that stood for 16 years. In his senior year he ran for 1,014 yards, leading Fairmont to the NAIA playoffs – they haven’t been to the post-season since – and scored their only touchdown on a 91-yard kickoff return

Overton was on the Pats roster for the first eight weeks of the 1990 season, appearing in all seven games. He was used primarily on special teams, stuck low on the depth chart behind John Stephens, Marvin Allen and Mosi Tatupu. That year Overton returned ten kicks for an average of 18.8 yards, with five rushes for eight yards and two receptions for 19 yards. He then played in 1991-92 with the Lions, appearing in 15 games with 59 yards rushing and 38 yards receiving while backing up Barry Sanders. In 1993 Overton signed as a free agent with Philadelphia in hopes of getting more playing time, but the Eagles then brought in Herschel Walker to be their feature back. He later spent time in training camp with Cincinnati, but did not make the final roster. In his post-NFL career, Overton is employed as a mortgage broker for Cardinal Mortgage Services in Columbus, Ohio.

 

1990: RB Jamie Lawson

– Lawson was recruited by Bill Arnsparger to accept a scholarship to LSU in 1984. After two seasons with the Tigers he transferred to play two more years at Nicholls State, and was drafted by Tampa Bay in the fifth round of the 1989 draft, 117th overall. He appeared in eleven games from 1989-90 with the Bucs, all on special teams. The Patriots signed him late in the season, and he was on the roster for the final two games of the year. Lawson was inactive in a week 16 game at the Jets, and then active the next week against the Giants. All his NFL playing time came on special teams, he had no carries or receptions during his two season in the NFL.

 

1978-81: WR Harold Jackson

– A 12th round draft pick in 1968 out of Jackson State, Harold Jackson went on to five Pro Bowls with the Eagles and Rams. Twice he led the NFL in receiving yards, and also led the league in receptions in ’72 and receiving touchdowns in ’73. The Rams figured a decline was imminent at age 32, and traded him for a couple of draft picks when the Patriots found themselves with a hole at receiver following Daryl Stingley’s being paralyzed by Jack Tatum. Even though that Patriot team was a run-oriented club (671 rushes, 390 passes), Jackson, as the number two receiver behind Stanley Morgan, still had six touchdowns and 743 yards receiving.

In four seasons with the Patriots, Jackson caught 156 passes for 3,162 yards, and had 18 touchdown receptions in his first three seasons. With Jackson, Morgan and Russ Francis, opponents could not stack the line of scrimmage to attempt to slow down New England’s record-setting rushing attack. When Jackson retired from pro football in 1983, he ranked second all-time behind only the AFL’s Don Maynard in career receiving yards. During the seventies Jackson led all players with in 432 receptions, 7,724 yards receiving, and 61 receiving touchdowns – yet was not named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 70s. Jackson finished hi NFL career with 10,372 yards receiving, 76 touchdowns, and an average of 17.9 yards per catch. It is baffling that he was never elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even now when he is eligible to be enshrined by the HoF’s Senior Selection Committee; perhaps that is due in part to his playing most of his career on average teams that rarely made the playoffs, and were not often on national television. Regardless of the reason why, it is long past due the time to right that wrong, and get his bust and plaque placed in Canton.

Jackson averaged 22.5 yards per catch in 1979 and 21.1 yards per catch in 1980, single-season marks that rank third and sixth respectively in the history of the Patriots franchise. His 1,013 yards receiving in 1979 was at the time the a single season franchise record; he and Stanley Morgan were the first two players in club history to have 1,000 yards receiving in a single season, and they were the only pair to achieve that feat in the same year until 2007. When Jackson retired he was third all-time in franchise history with 3,162 yards receiving – even though he only played four years, in his thirties, on a run-oriented team during an era when the NFL did not pass the ball nearly as often as they do today. Since retiring as a player, Jackson has worked as a receivers coach, offensive coordinator and assistant coach in both the pro and college ranks. He was New England’s wide receiver coach from 1985-89, and is now the head coach at his alma mater of Jackson State.

 

1976: S Willie Germany

– Germany was a six-foot, 192 pound strong safety from Morgan State. He was drafted by Washington in the seventh round of the 1971 draft and was with five organizations (Washington, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and New England) over five seasons. Germany started eleven games with the Lions in 1975 before the Patriots signed him. He played in every game from week three on, with his final NFL game being the Ben Dreith game at Oakland in the ’76 playoffs.

 

1975: S Durwood Keeton

Keeton was an overachiever, a person that others were forever thinking was too small to play football. A free safety at Oklahoma in 1972-73, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 4th round, 85th overall, in the 1974 draft. Keeton decided instead to play for Tom Fears and the Southern California Sun of the fledgling World Football League with their larger contracts and better opportunities in ’74. That franchise was in financial disarray, and the following year the Cardinals traded his rights to the Patriots. Keeton played in twelve games in 1975 for the Pats, mostly on special teams, in what was Chuck Fairbanks’ first year as the head coach in New England. The next year he and Joe Blahak were selected in the veteran allocation draft for the two new expansion teams by the Tampa Bay Bucaneers. He never played a down for the Bucs, and never played in the NFL again after being released by the Buccaneers.

 

1973: S Greg Boyd

– This gets a little confusing, because there were two Greg Boyd’s that played in the NFL in the seventies – and both played at some point for the Patriots. The other Greg Boyd was a defensive end who was a bit more well known, drafted by the Pats in 1976; he was with the club until 1978 and played in the NFL until 1984.

This Greg Boyd is a defensive back from Arizona who was drafted by Miami in the 14th round of the 1973 draft, 364th overall. The Patriots traded for Boyd – why they would trade anything for the 364th pick of the draft, I do not know. Perhaps it may be an example of why Miami was coming off a perfect season and Super Bowl championship, while the Pats were 3-11 the previous year, and new coach and GM Chuck Fairbanks considered Boyd to be an upgrade over what little talent was held over on the roster from the John Mazur era.

The last news on Boyd was that he was apparently doing okay as a contract project manager for a real-estate development company operating in the Phoenix metro area, but reported zero income to the IRS for three years; he was sentenced to three years in February.

 

1972-73: S Honor Jackson

– Jackson played football at the College of Marin and then at Pacific University, where he had scholarships for both football and track. With his sprinter’s speed he caught 74 passes for 1,236 yards, and was drafted by the Cowboys in the 9th round (233rd overall) of the 1971 draft. Dallas was coming off a Super Bowl and was deep at receiver but really liked Jackson’s speed, so they converted him to defensive back. Jackson was not particularly happy with that decision, and he was traded along with guard Halvor Hagen and outspoken running back Duane Thomas to the Patriots for running back Carl Garrett. After not being able to find Thomas, he made his way to Foxboro – and on the first play of the next practice, Thomas refused to go into a three-point stance, quit the team, and head coach John Mazur attempted to have the void traded. Pete Rozelle stepped in, and Garrett and Thomas returned to their former teams; Rozelle had the Patriots keep Jackson and Hagen in exchange for their second and third round draft picks.

After the Patriots signed Randy Vataha, they too wanted Jackson to move to the defensive side of the ball. Jackson started ten games at strong safety for the Pats at strong safety in 1972, with a fumble recovery and four interceptions – including two against the Dolphins in a game that he also knocked Mercury Morris out with a hit during Miami’s undefeated season. Jackson appeared in seven games with one pick the following season for the Patriots before being traded to the Giants, but a crack-back block damaged the perineal nerve in his right leg. He attempted a comeback but the injury had robbed him of some of his speed, and a doctor told him that if he injured that leg again he would have a permanent limp. Having seen the ravages of injuries to other NFL players, Jackson decided it was not worth the risk, and he retired from the NFL at the age of 27.

Since retiring from football, Jackson has been the the Northern California president of the National Football League Retired Players Association, worked as a drug store manager, and helped out with various charities and youth groups for at-risk kids.

 

1968-69: WR Aaron Marsh

– One of the first African-American student-athletes at Eastern Kentucky, Marsh was a tailback for his first two years and then switched to wide receiver. He was a first team All-American as a senior, and drafted in the third round, 60th overall, of the 1968 AFL/NFL draft. After a slow start, Marsh went on to catch 19 passes for 331 yards and four touchdowns – including a 70-yard TD against the Jets – and was named AFL Rookie of the Year. The next year the Patriots drafted Ron Sellers in the first round, and he had a Pro Bowl season. Marsh dropped to fourth on the depth chart at wide receiver, with just eight receptions for 108 yards on the year, and then switched to cornerback. Marsh was a full-time defensive back in the 1970 off-season, but failed to make the roster at the end of training camp.

With his pro football career over, Marsh decided to work with at-risk youths and serve as a mentor with Big Brothers. He moved west and started and organized a little league for inner-city children in Compton, California. In 2006 Marsh was inducted into the Eastern Kentucky University Hall of Fame.

 

Previously:

#10 – QB Jimmy Garoppolo

#14 – KR/WR Reggie Dunn

#16 – WR Reese Wiggins

#19 – WR Brandon LaFell

#21 – CB Jemea Thomas

#23 – S Patrick Chung

#24 – CB Darrelle Revis

#28 – RB James White

 

 

 

Follow on Twitter @AllThingsPats

2014 NFL Calendar and Key Dates for the New England Patriots

2014 New England Patriots Transaction Tracker