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April 26 in Pats History: Happy 70th Birthday, Steve Nelson

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Today in Patriots History
April 26 Birthday Celebration Part One: Steve Nelson

Happy 68th birthday to Steve Nelson
Born April 26, 1951 in Farmington, Minnesota
Patriot LILB, 1974-1987; uniform #57 (retired)
Pats 2nd round (34th overall) selection of the 1974 draft, from North Dakota State

Even though Steve Nelson was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame way back in 1993, he may still be one of the Pats' and pro football's most overlooked players. Had Ben Dreith not robbed the Patriots of a 1976 Lombardi trophy (or had Billy Sullivan's cheapness not derailed a multi-year run), Nelson would be far more well known by football fans across the country.

Including the playoffs he started in 178 games for the Patriots, with an appropriate 1776 tackles - 10.2 per game. In one 1982 game against the Jets he made 22 tackles! Nelson was voted to three Pro Bowls and named as a first team All Pro by Pro Football Weekly and The Sporting News in 1980. He had 17 interceptions and 16 fumble recoveries, and 100+ tackles in nine of his 14 seasons. The 17 picks is second most by a linebacker in franchise history, trailing only Hall of Famer Nick Buoniconti; it is also tied for 15th most overall in club history. Nelson's 174 regular season games played is 11th most in Patriot history, and the 16 fumble recoveries ranks second to Hall of Famer Andre Tippett's 19.

Steve Nelson was also named to the New England Patriots 1970s All-Decade Team, the 1980s All-Decade Team, the 35th Anniversary Team, the 50th Anniversary Team, and the 2000 Team of the Century. He played 14 consecutive seasons for the Patriots, the most in team history for a defensive player and fourth most overall.

Meddlesome Man in the Middle: Few people outside of Foxboro, Mass. have heard of Steve Nelson, the Patriots' inside linebacker, but he may be the best in the NFL | Sports Illustrated (1978)

Patriots Hall of Famer Steve Nelson Interview | PatsFans (2012)