Today in Patriots History
Happy 69th birthday to Don Calhoun
Born April 29, 1952 in Sumner, Oklahoma
Patriot RB, 1975-1981; uniform #44
Signed as a free agent on Nov 15, 1975 (five days after being released by Buffalo)
Calhoun was a teammate of Steve Grogan's at Kansas State and drafted by the Bills in the tenth round (249th) in the 1974 draft. He may be the first in a long tradition of Buffalo castoffs to find success in Foxborough. After being relegated to nothing more than blocking for OJ Simpson in Buffalo, Calhoun's talents were much better utilized in New England. He became a vital part of the Chuck Fairbanks era Patriots that were robbed of a Lombardi Trophy, and the team set an NFL record for rushing yardage in a single season.
When called upon to fill in for Sam Cunningham or Andy Johnson, Calhoun delivered so well that fans fervently lobbied for him to be given more snaps. He never once missed a game due to injury, and led the NFL with an incredible 5.6 yards per rush in 1976. In a four week span at the end of the '76 season Calhoun came in off the bench and performed better than anyone could have reasonably asked for, with four consecutive 100-yard games as a sub. Over those four games Calhoun carried the rock 93 times for a whopping 540 yards. He was a major factor in the six-game winning streak to finish the season, with the Pats finishing 11-3. The Patriots were not only in the playoffs for the first time in 13 years - at that point in time they were the best team in the league. Unfortunately Pats fans had to wait another quarter century for a championship thanks to Ben Dreith.
When Calhoun finished his playing days in New England he ranked third in franchise history in rushing yardage (he ranks 6th now), and third in rushing touchdowns (9th now). Calhoun's 4.1 yards per carry is second most in team history for a player with as many rushes (820) as he had.
Calhoun: One Tough Back - Kansas State University Athletics
Don Calhoun - Kansas Sports Hall of Fame