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April 3 in Pats History: Happy 68th Birthday, Russ Francis

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jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
The old "Today in Patriots History" thread has been retired, but perhaps on slow news days like today I will periodically post a single-date version.


Today in Patriots History
AWTE


There was an old blog that has since been devoured by defunct hard drives, but the fact that I actually received a response from Russ Francis was - and still is - a very cool thing to me.

Happy Birthday, The One And Only, Russ Francis

Russ Francis - All World Tight End

http://atp.patsfans.com/2012/04/03/russ-francis-all-world-tight-end/

Your comments from last year, on my birthday, were sent to me by a friend. I wanted to thank you both, John and Emerson, for your kind and funny thoughts and comments.
It was a very special time in my life. While I had the time of my life both in New England and San Francisco, I started and ended in New England with the Patriots and those memories are etched in the bedrock of my soul as some of the most joyous and spectacular days and Monday nights of my life.
Thank you both. And John, thank you for being the Paul Revere of Pats fans by keeping the past and present stories alive online so we can all enjoy and benefit from your good work. Aloha nui loa to you both, #81


When I first saw that the AWTE had responded, I assumed somebody was just screwing with me.




For those of you that are too young to see him, my condolences.

Happy 68th birthday to Russ Francis.
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Some great commentary from @Actual Pats Fan on Russ Francis here:



Russell Ross Francis (born April 3, 1953), drafted by the New England Patriots in the 1st round (16th pick) of the 1975 NFL Draft, despite sitting out his senior season at Oregon. He grew up in Hawaii. At 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), 242 lb (110 kg), Russ was the first Patriot tight end with three career receptions on fourth down plays. Francis is the only Patriot player with three receptions from a pass thrown by a wide receiver, and was a three-time Pro Bowl selection from 1977 to 1979. Yes, he's not in the Pats' HOF because its system relies on local media and online (fairweather) fan voting.

He set the national high school record for the javelin as a senior at Pleasant Hill High School, southeast of Eugene, in 1971 at 259 feet, 9 inches; the record stood until 1988. Francis qualified for The Superstars final and the World Superstars in 1980 and 1981, finishing second in the 1980 final and fourth in 1981. He won the football preliminary in 1981 and set a record of 23.91 seconds in the 50 yard swimming event. The record stood until 1986 when it was broken by Greg Louganis.

Francis appeared in a 20-man battle royal at WrestleMania 2 along with other NFL stars...Eat your heart out, Gronk. The son of wrestling promoter Ed Francis, he briefly competed full-time in the American Wrestling Association after retiring from football. He also competed in the National Wrestling Alliance's NWA Hawaii where he held the NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship one time with his older brother, Billy Roy Francis.

Following the 1980 season, Francis retired from professional football. Two things that Francis has said contributed greatly to this decision were, one, when the Patriots refused to give him his promised bonus for making the Pro Bowl (because his injury from a motorcycle accident kept him out of the game); and, secondly, when his roommate, Darryl Stingley, was paralyzed by a Jack Tatum hit, the Patriots tried to cancel Stingley's medical insurance. Francis was the first Patriot player at Stingley's side immediately after the hit. Francis has said it was tough to play after that.
He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers for a draft pick that the Patriots used to select future Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett.

No, I don't think his circling around the stadium in a helicopter one day at practice will ever be topped.

Last time I spoke with Steve Grogan, he said Russ now lives in Wyoming. No word on how many "Whuffo"s are there ("Whuffo you jump out of parachutes?")

("Um, we don't jump out of parachutes. That would be really dumb.")


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jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Russ Francis' stats are misleading because the game has changed so dramatically over the years. Francis was a devastating blocker that played a large part in the Pats success in the mid to late seventies. The 1976 Patriots rushed for what was the fourth most yards in NFL history (2,948), and two years later they ran for 3,165 yards - an NFL record that lasted for 31 seasons.

Even though the stats across decades are difficult to compare, it should be noted that at the time AWTE departed after the 1980 season thanks to the Sullivan's miserly ways, he ranked fourth all-time in franchise history in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns behind wide receivers Jim Colclough, Gino Cappelletti and teammate Stanley Morgan.


 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Other April 3rd events

April 3 also includes the birth date for PFW, a very short-lived stadium name sponsorship, a super bowl hero (for another team), and the player received in what turned out to be a very one-sided draft trade.


April 3, 1995
The Patriots publish the premiere issue of Patriots Football Weekly, the team's official newspaper.


http://www.pfwonline.com/public/index.cfm?ac=introduction

It is with mixed emotions that we must inform you that PFW will stop publishing at the completion of the 2018 season.

After 24 seasons of PFW, it was a difficult decision to stop printing the newspaper, but as you know, how most fans consume their content has changed. Let's face it, keeping up with the fast-paced news cycle isn't easy with a weekly newspaper! To that end, the staff of PFW will be providing you with even more content on the various Patriots platforms including Patriots.com, the Patriots app and all of the Patriots social media accounts.

Thank you for being a PFW subscriber and fan!

Sincerely,
The entire staff of Patriots Football Weekly




April 3, 2001
In celebration of a long-standing construction tradition, the final beam was hoisted into place at CMGI Field to signify the "topping off" of the structure's steel.


CMGI Field topped off | The Sun Chronicle

Another milestone was reached in the building of the new CMGI Field when the final steel beam was hoisted onto the facility's upper northwest corner Tuesday.
Adding a bit of drama to the “topping off” ceremony, a 12-foot long two-by-four that was holding in place a banner attached to the steel beam broke off once the almost 6,000-pound beam was near its final destination. The large piece of wood sailed down from the sky and landed in an area reserved for the media. Bryan Morry, editor of the Patriots Football Weekly, was slightly injured when the wood hit the top of his left leg, but he did not require hospitalization, according to Patriots' spokesman Stacey James.





Happy 77th birthday to Randy Beverly
Born April 3, 1944 in Wildwood, New Jersey
Patriot CB, 1970-1971; uniform #27
Signed as a free agent on Sept 22, 1970; cut on July 24, 1972


Beverly played in 21 games with 4 starts for the Pats, with two interceptions. He was primarily a special teams player, and later spent a season in the WFL.

He is best known for two plays in Super Bowl III.
From Wikipedia:

The Jets had managed a solid defense throughout the season, but going into Super Bowl III, the Jets passing defense was not considered particularly strong. With the Jets installed as an 18-point underdog, Beverly's small stature made him a main target of Colts' quarterback Earl Morrall. However, Beverly put together a remarkable performance, becoming the first player ever to record two interceptions in a Super Bowl.

In the first quarter, the Colts drove down the field, seemingly fulfilling the predictions about their offensive prowess. Reaching the Jets' 10-yard-line, Morrall threw a pass into the end zone, but the pass bounced off a Jets lineman, then hit the shoulder pads of Colts tight end Tom Mitchell. Beverly tracked the ball and caught it in the end zone, ending the Colts first drive.

The Jets defense continued to stymie the Colts for the rest of the first half, shutting them out and prompting the insertion of Colt legend Johnny Unitas at quarterback. Driving the Colts down the field and poised to score the team's first touchdown of the game, Unitas threw a crossing pattern to one of his wide receiver's in the end zone, but Beverly stepped in front and caught the ball in the end zone, downing it for a touchback. While the Colts managed to score a late touchdown, the Jets' 16-7 triumph is considered to be one of the greatest upsets in the history of professional sports in the United States.


Patriots%2071%20Home%20Randy%20Beverly_small.jpg

From the 1971 Patriots Media Guide:

Came to Pats as free agent early last season ... star of first AFL victory in the Super Bowl as starting cornerback for the New York Jets ... picked off two big interceptions on Baltimore pass plays ... starter for Jets in '68 and '69 ... traded to San Diego Chargers in 1970 for receiver Richard Trapp ... eventually waived by Chargers and claimed by Pats ... played well on special teams last year ... going into fifth pro season ... signed with Jets as free agent in 1966 ... has 10 pro career pass interceptions ... lettered in basketball and track and won Junior College All-America honors at Trinidad (Colo.) J.C. ... state broad jump champion at Wildwood (N.J.) H.S. ... returned kickoff 99 yards at Colorado State ... adds good depth to Pats' speedy cornerback corps.​





Happy 72nd birthday to Ralph Anderson
Born April 3, 1949 in Dallas, Texas
Died 12/20/2016 at the age of 67
Patriot free safety, 1973; uniform #49
Acquired in trade from Pittsburgh on Sept 3, 1973 in exchange for a 1974 4th round draft pick


Anderson played in 13 games for the Pats with 11 starts. He had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries in Chuck Fairbanks' first season as head coach for the Patriots.

The Pats acquired Anderson in a trade with Pittsburgh, two weeks prior to the start of the 1973 season. The Steelers used that 4th round draft pick on WR John Stallworth - who they were initially going to select in the first round - but chose Lynn Swann instead.

Stallworth went on to play 14 seasons in Pittsburgh, and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A 1971 5th round draft pick from West Texas A&M, Anderson never played in the NFL again after that 1973 season; he ended up with the Fire (Chicago), Winds (Chicago) and Thunder (Portland) of the World Football League in 1974-75.

Ralph_Anderson.jpg




April 3, 2014: Patriots sign free agent safety Patrick Chung
The Patriots had originally drafted the Oregon Duck in 2009, with a second round pick acquired in the Matt Cassel trade to the Chiefs. New England let him walk as a free agent in 2013, then re-signed him one year later when the Eagles cut quickly ties. Chung played in 141 regular season games plus 22 playoff games in ten seasons over those two stints in Foxborough.

April 3, 2006: New England signs free agent CB Eric Warfield
Warfield had spent all eight of his NFL seasons in Kansas City, with 20 interceptions and 78 pass break ups and 393 tackles over 115 games. Perhaps he signed because he wanted to experience a postseason run; the Chiefs had played just one playoff game during his time in KC. That was not to be; the Pats released Eric on September 1, 2006.

April 3, 1973: Patriots sign free agent John Sanders
The South Dakota State alum was with the Pats through the '76 season, starting at CB in '74 and FS in '75.
 

FCB02062

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
a couple of responses... My buddy is in 103 and they were doing work on the stadium during construction. He has a ton of CMGI Field crap like cups napkins another stuff. could be with some dough you never know. I remember my dad loving Russ Francis and yes he always called him all world. and way back in the day when the Patriots were on BCN, a much younger 02062 won a year's subscription to Patriots football weekly, the actual newspaper. I answered some trivia question from Bill Abbatte....
 

Chevy

Huh?
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2021 Weekly NFL Picks Winner
Maybe some of the historians here can help, but the lasting image I have of Russ is him leaping up, surrounded (had to have been 4) by defenders to make a catch from Grogan. Looked like a man playing on a Pop Warner team.

I want to say is was 1980 vs the Jets. Just stuck with me for some reason.
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member

The Patriots won that 1976 MNF game 41-7 over the Jets. #81 has a nice sideline catch at about 9:35 to set up a TD, but the then 23-year old TE spent most of the game as a sixth offensive lineman; the Pats rushed for 330 yards that evening.




Here is another game from '76, with the Patriots erasing an 11-point second half deficit to win at Pittsburgh 30-27. Russ had six receptions for 139 yards, including a 3rd quarter 38-yard TD (10:30 mark) that began the Pats comeback.




In 1978 Francis was named to his third straight Pro Bowl. He had five catches for 126 yards and a TD in this 21-14 victory at Oakland. The TD (6:44) was critical, with the Pats down 14-0 and being dominated up to that point.

 

Actual Pats Fan

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Russ Francis' stats are misleading because the game has changed so dramatically over the years. Francis was a devastating blocker that played a large part in the Pats success in the mid to late seventies. The 1976 Patriots rushed for what was the fourth most yards in NFL history (2,948), and two years later they ran for 3,165 yards - an NFL record that lasted for 31 seasons.

Even though the stats across decades are difficult to compare, it should be noted that at the time AWTE departed after the 1980 season thanks to the Sullivan's miserly ways, he ranked fourth all-time in franchise history in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns behind wide receivers Jim Colclough, Gino Cappelletti and teammate Stanley Morgan.
The idea that Casper is better is delusional. Russ belongs in both the PFHOF and Pats' HOF. Period.

Mind blowing that there are TWO others more deserving that aren't in the team hall: Adams and Fairbanks. And two slightly behind, Tatupu and Stingley.
 

Chevy

Huh?
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2021 Weekly NFL Picks Winner

The Patriots won that 1976 MNF game 41-7 over the Jets. #81 has a nice sideline catch at about 9:35 to set up a TD, but the then 23-year old TE spent most of the game as a sixth offensive lineman; the Pats rushed for 330 yards that evening.




Here is another game from '76, with the Patriots erasing an 11-point second half deficit to win at Pittsburgh 30-27. Russ had six receptions for 139 yards, including a 3rd quarter 38-yard TD (10:30 mark) that began the Pats comeback.




In 1978 Francis was named to his third straight Pro Bowl. He had five catches for 126 yards and a TD in this 21-14 victory at Oakland. The TD (6:44) was critical, with the Pats down 14-0 and being dominated up to that point.

Did the ball boy score a rushing TD in that game? Everyone else did,
 

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