Today in Patriots History
April 17, 1980:
Pats acquire RB Chuck Foreman from Vikings, in exchange for a conditional third round pick.
Eugene 'Chuck' Foreman was the 12th overall pick of the 1973 draft, and went to the Pro Bowl in each of his first five seasons. In 1975 he was a first team All Pro, leading the league in receptions while scoring 22 touchdowns (in a 14-game season). Foreman was on the verge of setting the NFL single-season record for TDs that year, but was denied the possibility when a snowball thrown by a Bills fan hit him in the eye, forcing him to the bench with blurred vision. Later in that game OJ Simpson scored a garbage time TD to break that record that had been set by Gale Sayers.
With 51 touchdowns from 1974-76, Foreman was instrumental in Minnesota winning three NFC championships - but was overused. From 1975-77 he averaged 276 carries and 55 receptions, and totaled well over 1,500 touches from 1974-78. That led to inevitable injuries and landing on IR for the final four games of the '79 season, and an offseason trade to New England.
The Patriots had some question marks at running back heading into the 1980 season, with Sam Cunningham and Andy Johnson both finishing the previous year on IR; Cunningham was also in a contract dispute that would eventually lead to his sitting out the entire 1980 season. New England added some insurance by trading for Foreman, then twelve days later selected Notre Dame RB Vagus Ferguson in the first round of the draft. Ferguson and Don Calhoun received the vast majority of the playing time among the Pats running backs that year, ahead of Horace Ivory, Mosi Tatupu, Foreman, Johnson and Allan Clark. While Foreman did see action in all 16 games, he was limited to 23 carries, 14 receptions and one touchdown for New England.
1980 would be Chuck Foreman's final season in the NFL. Overall he rushed for 5950 yards, caught 350 passes for 3156 more yards, and scored a total of 76 TDs; he added another 1307 yards from scrimmage and seven more touchdowns in the postseason. Foreman received first- or second-team All-NFL honors every year from 1974 to '77, led the NFL in receptions in 1973, and in touchdowns in 1974 and 1976. He now works as a substitute teacher in Bloomington, Minnesota.
April 17, 1996:
OT Pat Harlow, the #11 overall selection of the 1991 draft, is traded to the Raiders for a second round pick. Three days later on the day of the draft, the Pats trade that pick back to Oakland, for a 3rd, 4th and 5th round pick. (More on that draft coming up 4/20).
April 17, 1999 at the Theatre at Madison Square Garden: Day One (Rounds 1-3) of the NFL Draft:
- Pats trade a 3rd round pick (#82) and 6th (#191) to Seattle in order to move up three spots in round one, from #20 to #17
- C Damien Woody, Boston College (Round 1, #17 overall)
- LB Andy Katzenmoyer, Ohio State (Round 1, #28)[One of four picks received from Jets as compensation for Bill Parcells
- Pats trade up again, sending a 2nd (#52) and 4th (#117) to Tennessee to move up six spots to #46
- RB Kevin Faulk, Louisiana State (Round 2, #46)
- S Tony George, Florida (Round 3, #91)[Pick acquired 4/19/98 from Vikings in Jimmy Hitchock trade
April 17, 1984: FB Mark van Eeghen retires after ten NFL seasons, the final two with the Pats.
Wrong End of Famous Games
Happy 57th birthday to Darrell Fullington
Born April 17, 1964 in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Patriot FS, 1991; uniform #29
Claimed off waivers from Minnesota on August 27, 1991
The native of the shark bite capital of the world went to the University of Miami, where he had five interceptions in 1984. The pick he did not make may be his most memorable play; as a Hurricane he was one of the end zone defenders that missed Doug Flutie's iconic Hail Mary touchdown pass.
The previous year Fullington was again on the wrong end of another improbable comeback. Miami was up 31-0 at halftime. Being who they were at that time, the Canes were arrogant and full of trash talk, taunting and mocking their opponent. Frank Reich came in off the bench to lead Maryland to the biggest comeback in college football history, winning 42-40. Late in the game a long Reich pass bounced off Fullington's hands and into Greg Hill's arms for the go-ahead score.
Fullington was drafted in the fifth round by the Vikings in 1988, and appeared in five games with the Pats in '91. He was waived during final roster cuts in '92. Over five NFL seasons he appeared in 79 games for Minnesota, New England and Tampa, with ten interceptions; he also played in three playoff games with the Vikings.
Happy birthday to Barry Brown, who would have been 78 today.
Born April 17, 1943 in Boston
Patriot TE/OL, 1969-1970; uniform #66 & #86
Signed as a free agent on September 2, 1970
Brown was born in Boston but grew up in Michigan. He graduated from the University of Florida, and in the 1966 Sugar Bowl had nine receptions from quarterback Steve Spurrier. A late (266th overall) pick by the Colts, he played primarily on special teams, as well as a backup linebacker.
After one season at linebacker with the Giants, Brown switched both teams and positions. Brown played in 21 games for the Patriots with ten starts at tight end, replacing Jim Whalen as starter at that position in 1970 when Joe Kapp was the QB. Brown caught 21 passes for 214 yards in 21 games as a Patriot, averaging 10.2 yards per catch. The Pats cut Brown on July 27, 1971, and he also failed to make the Cardinals roster that summer in his last stop in the NFL. In total Brown played in 57 games for Baltimore, Boston and the Giants, with all 21 of his receptions coming in a Patriot uniform. After that Brown transitioned to a post-NFL career in real estate development; he passed away a year ago at the age of 76.
Happy 25th birthday to Keion Crossen
Born April 17, 1996 in Garysburg, NC
Patriot CB, 2018; uniform #35
Pats 7th round (243rd overall) selection of the 2018 draft, from Western Carolina
Keion Crossen appeared in eleven games for the Patriots as a reserve cornerback in 2018, contributing mostly on special teams; he was a healthy scratch in the five other games. He finished the season with seven tackles on defense and seven tackles on special teams. In a week 17 victory over the Jets he posted a season-high three defensive tackles despite being limited to 13 defensive snaps, and added another tackle on special teams. Keion finished the regular season with 39 defensive snaps (4%) and 113 ST snaps (25%).
Crossen appeared in all three playoff games as a reserve on defense, including Super Bowl LIII, and recorded one tackle on defense and two on special teams in the postseason. Near the end of training camp in 2019 he was traded to Houston for a 2020 sixth round draft pick. Crossen has seen more of the field for the Texans, logging 307 defensive snaps (28%) last year, and 59% of their special team snaps in each of the last two seasons.
Today's list of birthdays is unusual in terms of the volume of New England natives that made it to the NFL.
Joe Todd turns 52 (4/17/1979)
Born and raised in Mansfield MA, Todd was a linebacker with the Jets in 2001 and Bucs in 2002. He has spent several years coaching at the high school and college football levels and is now linebackers coach at the University of Rhode Island.
James Hamilton turns 47 (4/17/1974)
Hamilton was born in Hartford but went to high school in North Carolina. The linebacker was a third round pick by Jacksonville in 1997. He was primarily a special teams player that was done in by injuries, appearing in 17 games over two seasons.
Gordon Laro turns 49 (4/17/1972)
Born in Lynn, Laro went to Lynn English High School and Boston College. The tight end played for Jacksonville in 1995.
Lance Olssen turns 74 (4/17/1947)
The Boston-born Purdue graduate was a third round pick by the 49ers in 1968. He spent two seasons in SF as a tackle and center.
Fran O'Brien (4/17/1936 - 10/21/1999)
O'Brien was born in Springfield and grew up in Holyoke. He spent ten years in the NFL, mostly as a right tackle for the Sonny Jurgensen-era Redskins. He later became more well known for his restaurants, particularly in the DC area.
Walt Kowalczyk (4/17/1935 - 11/7/2018)
The Westfield native won the Harry Agganis Award in 1954 for the best high school athlete in New England. Kowalczyk was the sixth overall pick in the 1958 draft. He played for the Eagles, Cowboys and Raiders but was more well known for his days at Michigan State. "The Sprinting Blacksmith" was an All American halfback, scoring nine touchdowns and leading the Spartans to a number three ranked 8-1 record.
Former Michigan State All-American Walt Kowalczyk dies at age 83
Kowalczyk was a three-year letter-winner under coach Duffy Daugherty and a consensus All-American as a senior in 1957, helping Michigan State to an 8-1 record and a share of a national championship. He rushed for 545 yards and nine touchdowns on 101 carries that season and finished third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, which remains tied for the best finish ever for a Spartan.