Section K-Ext. Lot 132
James Solomon Nance was a legendary Indiana athlete whose promise emerged early on. Born in Indiana, PA, on December 20, 1942, he was the son of James S. and Delia James Sherman Nance. Wrestling for the Indiana Area High School, Nance was a two-time Pennsylvania heavyweight champion in 1960 and 1961. During high school, he played varsity football under Coach Dick Farabaugh. He was also a stellar member of the Indiana High School track team.
Nance attended Syracuse University, where he majored in sociology. He stood out as a football player, tying the school record for career touchdowns (13). He led the Orangemen in rushing in 1964, scoring in ten straight games. While at Syracuse, Nance was a member of the wrestling team. In 1963 and 1965, he was the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion and received All-America honors.
Nance’s strong collegiate-football performance led to a career as a professional football player. The Chicago Bears selected him in the 4th round of the 1965 NFL draft, as did the Boston Patriots in the 19th round. Nance chose to sign with the Patriots. He led the AFL in rushing two seasons following his rookie year. He went on to become the only AFL player to rush for more than 1,400 yards in a season. Nance was an American Football League All-Star in 1966. That same year, he received the league’s Most Valuable Player award. In 1967, he was the only AFL player to have consecutive seasons with over 1,000 yards. He retired as the Patriots’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 45, a record he still holds.
In 1972, Jim Nance was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles; but, he refused to play for them, temporarily retiring. The following year He joined the New York Jets. In 1974, Nance played with the Houston Texans/Shreveport Steamer of the World Football League, rushing for 1,240 yards. He was the all-time leading rusher in the WFL, with 490 carries for 2,007 yards and a 4.1 average.
After retirement, Nance devoted his time to conducting youth sports camps and supporting various charities. James S. Nance died on June 16, 1992, in Quincy, Massachusetts. Nance has been recognized as one of the greatest Boston Patriots. Although a formidable, powerful presence on the football field or wrestling mat, Nance was admired for his dignified, gentlemanly comportment dedication to sportsmanship.