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July 30 in Pats History: The French Patriot rugby player, "Le Sack"

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jmt57

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Staff member
Today in Patriots History
The French Patriot


Happy 56th birthday to Richard 'Le Sack' Tardits
Born July 30, 1965 in Biarritz, France
Patriot LB, 1990-1992; uniform #53
Acquired in a trade with the Phoenix Cardinals on March 23, 1990




Richard Tardits learned to speak English as a high school exchange student in Augusta, Georgia. Against his father's wishes he stayed in the US and became the University of Georgia's career leader in sacks. Tardits played in 27 games for the Patriots over three seasons. Following that Tardits played on the United States national rugby union team, the USA Eagles, from 1993 to 1999.

Richard Tardits, first Basque-born NFL Player

Tardits played rugby at junior level for Biarritz Olympique, and represented the French national side at the same level. Moving to the United States to attend college he took up football and played for the Georgia Bulldogs. There, he held the record for most sacks (until surpassed by David Pollack in 2004), earning the nickname “Le Sack.”​




Below is a detailed and worthwhile biography on the very interesting life of Richard Tardits.


His reluctance for self-aggrandizement is admirable, but seldom has any college had a player who embodied the student athlete concept as did Richard Tardits. You must keep in mind that he didn't grow up from infancy with a familiarity with football or a natural appreciation of the nuances of the popular American sport. When he was a senior, he was studying for a Masters degree, taking 25 hours. There was an NCAA rule that stipulated that he could only take 22 hours, so he audited courses like art appreciation, photography, and typing, the last a skill he knew he would need one day in the business world. When he earned an NCAA postgraduate scholarship, a remarkable achievement for someone who learned to speak English as a high school exchange student in Augusta, Georgia, where he visited longtime family friend, Dr. Edouard Servy, he took the money and learned to fly an airplane and maintains an active pilot's license today.​



There is also this, more relevant to Patriots fans:

From that point on, Richard played and practiced with the heart of a lion while placing unending emphasis on his academic options. Looking back, he realizes that his academic emphasis was not in his best interests in regard to an NFL career but has no regrets. "I was in the middle of working for my MBA degree and did not prepare for the NFL combine as a result," Richard said. Yet he knew what he had to do to make the team in the specialized NFL system. With his speed, he learned to cover backs out of the backfield and made the team at Arizona. Traded to the New England Patriots, he knew he was a better pass rusher than Andre Tippett, who was getting by on experience. "Once you are established in the NFL, they are not going to cut you if you have experience," he said.​

The then-lowly Patriots made a move for rebirth and hired Bill Parcells. By this time, Richard was injured. After a team meeting, Parcells told him, "You won't be well by training camp, so we are going to release you." Tardits knew the rules and said, "Coach I am injured, you cannot cut me." Parcells curt reply, was, "Sue me."​

That did not offend Richard, who understands how cutthroat business is in the NFL. "Parcells was right. I would not have recovered by training camp." With no place for bitterness in his life, Tardits holds no grudge and says wistfully, "I would have liked to have played for a coach like Parcells." While in Boston, Richard applied for Harvard Law School and was admitted, but he knew he could not play in the NFL and take classes, so he opted not to enroll--one of the few regrets in his life.​


Some more articles on Richard Tardits:

Richard Tardits scores for the USA, versus Ireland in 1996​



Nicknamed “Le Sack” by Bulldog fans due to his French heritage, Tardis’ story could be turned into a movie one day. The Bayonne, France native tried out for the football team as an exchange student, making quite an impression on hall of fame coach Vince Dooley. His rugby background in France stood out to Dooley and helped him see the field early on special teams.​

“Le Sack” was a rough and tough athlete who loved contact. If anyone played football like a bulldog would, it was Richard Tardis. His style of play was aggressive, and his motor tough to stop. Tardits played at Georgia from 1985-1988, and left as the school’s all-time career sack leader with 29.​

Even as a former walk-on, it’s safe to say Tardits was one of the most productive defensive ends in school history. After his playing days in Athens, Tardits was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 5th round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons in the NFL, with three of them coming in New England. Tardits played in 27 total games in his NFL career before moving to Hong Kong to play professional rugby.​

While many remember him for his football days, there are others who remember him as a U.S.A Rugby star. After his days in Hong Kong where he would meet his wife, Tardits helped the United States team win the Rugby World Cup in 1999.​

There are plenty of special people and amazing stories that come through the University of Georgia, but none will be as cool as Richard Tardits’.​


 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Stephen Starring


Happy birthday to Stephen Starring
Born July 30, 1961 in Baton Rouge
Patriot WR/KR, 1983-1987; uniform #81
Pats 3rd round (74th overall) selection of the 1983 draft, from McNeese State





A running quarterback who could also pass was the best way to describe Stephen Starring. He came out of Vinton and led the Cowboys to an Independence Bowl game appearance in 1980, passing and rushing for 1,980 yards. He holds the school season rushing record for quarterbacks of 974 yards. Three times he led the Cowboys in total offense and passing and he ranks seventh on the all-time passing list with 3,083 yards on 181 completions and is 12th in rushing with 1,906 yards. He was the team MVP in 1980 and the SLC offensive player of the year. He also became an all-American in track and field and won three SLC titles, two in the high hurdles and one in the long jump. He went on to a pro football career, playing with the New England Patriots and in the Super Bowl.​




Fans got an indication of what they could expect from their club in the season opener at the newly renamed Sullivan Stadium. In the first of many big plays in 1983, quarterback Steve Grogan hit rookie wide receiver Stephen Starring on a 73-yard touchdown bomb for New England’s first score of the season.​



As a rookie in 1983 Stephen Starring had 17 receptions for 389 yards and two touchdowns, including the score above. The following season he won the competition as the starting wide receiver opposite Stanley Morgan and finished second on the team with 46 catches, and third in both receiving yards (647) and touchdown receptions (4).

In 1984 the Pats had traded up to select Irving Fryar with the first overall pick of the draft, and in '85 he had shown enough to be inserted into the starting lineup. New England also had Cedric Jones, a third round pick from the 1982 draft at receiver. Starring's playing time took an immediate nosedive. In '85 he became the fourth option at wide receiver behind Morgan, Fryar and Jones, and ranked just eighth on the team with 16 receptions - also behind running backs Tony Collins and Craig James, and tight ends Derrick Ramsey and Lin Dawson.

His status did not change over the next two years. From 1985 through 1987 Starring averaged 16 catches for 273 yards and two touchdowns. Already expendable, Starring did not help his cause in the offseason. At a charity golf event he had a bit too much to drink and was arrested on a misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure, on June 7, 1988. (Though to be fair to Starring, his off-field incident barely made the news. Irving Fryar, Hart Lee Dykes, Mack Herron, Tony Collins, Robert Perriman and Shelby Jordan were all Patriots from that era that had more autographs on bail bond slips than they did on football cards.)

Two months later the Patriots were guilty of grand theft when they were somehow able to obtain a third round pick - which they used on a far more productive player, tight end Marv Cook - from Tampa Bay in late August of 1988. Starring suffered an injury and had only three receptions in six games for the Bucs, before being released. He spent the second half of the '88 season with Detroit and wrapped up his NFL career by being waived by the Raiders at the end of training camp in 1989.


Stephen Starring appeared in 72 regular season games for the Patriots, with 23 starts. He had 112 receptions for 1,865 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 16.7 yards per catch. Starring also averaged 21.1 yards on 107 kickoff returns, 5.7 yards on 19 punt returns, and returned another 15 kickoffs in the playoffs.


June 7, 1988:

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) _ Stephan Starring, a reserve wide receiver for the New England Patriots, was arrested following an indecent-exposure incident involving two women hotel employees, authorities said.​

The 26-year-old Starring, who has played five seasons with the NFL team, was arrested Saturday night at the Embassy Suites Hotel, issued a summons on the misdemeanor charge and released on $500 bond, said Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Beatty. Starring is scheduled to appear in county court on July 1.​

Penalty for conviction on the charge ranges from a $50 fine to six months or $750 or both, Beatty said.​

Patriots spokesman Jimmy Oldham said the club was aware of the incident but had no comment.​

Beatty said the arrest report showed that a 28-year-old woman employee of the hotel said Starring approached her Saturday night in her office and exposed himself.​

She told him to stop, he left the room and got on an elevator with a 25- year-old woman hotel employee and twice exposed himself to her, then followed her around the hotel talking to her, the report said.​

Beatty said no physical contact was made in either incident.​

Deputies were called to the hotel and arrested Starring when he returned to the building, Beatty said.​

Starring, of Lake Charles, La., was in the Denver area taking part in the John Elway Golf Classic, Beatty said.​


February 17, 1989:

Wide receiver Stephen Starring of the Patriots has been convicted by an Arapahoe County (Colo.) Court jury of two counts of indecent exposure. After the jury returned the verdict this week, County Judge Jim Macrum fined Starring $500 and ordered him to appear in court March 6 to review the results of a mental-health examination. Starring was arrested last year after allegedly exposing himself to two women at an Aurora, Colo., hotel while attending a golf tournament to raise funds for the John Elway Foundation.​


There is a very well-detailed article about the state of the New England Patriots in the immediate aftermath of their Super Bowl 20 loss to the Chicago Bears below. The Pats were dealing with the worst loss in Super Bowl history, a drug scandal, lack of trust between players as well as mistrust between the players and management, the retirement of two of their best players, unanswered questions about Irving Fryar missing the AFCCG due to a knife wound, the impending sale of the team, a feud between the team and the area's largest media/source of information, and a quarterback controversy.

Wow.

THE DRUG SCANDAL. Those named in the Globe as having failed drug tests were wide receiver Irving Fryar, a Pro Bowler who had been the league's No. 1 draft pick in 1984; defensive tackle Kenneth Sims, the No. 1 overall pick in 1982; cornerback Raymond Clayborn, a two-time Pro Bowler; running back Tony Collins; defensive back Roland James; and wide receiver Stephen Starring.​


January 24, 1997:
Only 1 minute, 19 seconds in, the Patriots kicked a field goal for a 3-0 lead. It was the fastest score in Super Bowl history, but a touchdown would have provided a major emotional boost.​

Instead, the Bears unleashed their "46" defense. The number was appropriate, because when it was over, the Bears had a then-Super Bowl-record for points.​

There were other dubious records: largest margin of victory (36), most sacks (seven) and fewest rushing yards allowed (seven). Quarterback Tony Eason's stats said it all: 0 of 6 passing, three sacks and a fumble.​

For the Patriots and their fans, the game was awful. But the nightmare was just beginning.​

A scandal delayed

Two days after the Super Bowl, the Boston Globe reported that as many as 12 Patriots had drug problems -- five of them termed "serious" by coach Raymond Berry. It was reported the Patriots voted for voluntary drug testing -- a violation of the collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players' union.​

The Globe also indicated it was aware of the scandal before the AFC Championship Game two weeks earlier, but sat on the story.​

The Globe identified six players as drug abusers: Fryar, Tony Collins, Stephen Starring, Kenneth Sims, Roland James and Raymond Clayborn. The names, the Globe said, were confirmed by Sullivan. The Patriots reacted by rescinding their vote for voluntary testing, saying player confidentiality had been promised but was betrayed.​

The Globe defended its decision to hold the drug story, claiming reporter Ron Borges' information was "off the record" and that Berry, the main source, would not go on record until after the Super Bowl.​

The Super Bowl humiliation and the drug scandal -- and how the story broke -- ended one of the most bizarre chapters in Patriots history. The ill will it created hung over Foxboro for years​
 

jmt57

Moderator
Staff member
Today in Patriots History
The Only NFL Player from Fall River


Happy 45th birthday to Marc Megna
Born July 30, 1976 in Fall River
Patriot LB, 1999-2000; uniform #96

Born and raised in Fall River, Marc Megna is a member of the 1994 class of Durfee High School. Although Fall River has produced several professional athletes, Marc is the only pro football player from that southeastern Massachusetts city. The two-time All-American was a sixth round draft pick out of Richmond by the Jets in 1999. Megna appeared in four games for the Pats in 2000. He also played with Cincinnati, and spent two seasons in NFL Europe. In 2002 he signed with the Montreal Alouettes and was an all star and Grey Cup champion in his first of four seasons in the CFL.












Happy birthday to Lex Hilliard
Born July 30, 1984 in Kalispell, Montana
Patriot FB, 2012; uniform #30



Sept 4, 2012:

Hilliard, 28, is a veteran of three NFL seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2009-10). The 5-11, 235-pounder signed with Minnesota as an unrestricted free agent on March 21, 2012 but was released by Minnesota on Aug. 31, 2012. He originally entered the NFL as a sixth round draft choice (204th overall) by Miami out of Montana in 2008. Hilliard spent his rookie campaign on the Miami practice squad. He has played in 48 NFL games with four starts and has 39 carries for 130 yards and two touchdowns and 26 receptions for 210 yards and two touchdowns.​


The Patriots released Hilliard two weeks later, his spot on the roster going to Kellen Winslow Jr. (who lasted just one week). In two games Hilliard had one carry for two yards, appearing on nine offensive snaps and nine special team snaps.


Sept 19, 2012:

Koutouvides will replace linebacker Mike Rivera on the roster, who was released by the team along with wide receiver Greg Salas and fullback Lex Hilliard.​



Aug 15, 2018:

“I think his work ethic. I know he worked hard. One thing I remember about Lex, there was a point during a game where he had busted his thumb or something and he had a pin in it. During the game, the pin had stuck out through his thumb. I remember them, with pliers, trying to get the pin out. I remember going, ‘Man this guy, he’s tough.’ I don’t care what you do in the weight room or on the field, he’s trying to get this pin pulled out of his thumb so he can go back in there and play. That memory sticks in there.​



June 25, 2016:

After stints with the Dolphins, Vikings, Patriots and Jets, Lex lost his NFL job in the summer of 2013. He moved back to Kalispell and four months ago he, wife Rebekah and their four stay-at-home kids lost their home to a fire.​
Life wasn't exactly a bowl of cherries before the fire. Lex took a job as assistant coach for the Kalispell Flathead football team last fall, but even then -- two years after losing his first love to a fractured shoulder blade -- football was still a sore spot.​
"The first year or so after I got done it was, 'Oh, I'm working hard. I'm coming back.' Everything seemed to be going in place," he recalled. "Then I got my first x-ray and things weren't healing right and the doctors told me give it more time. I go for a second x-ray a couple months later and things still weren't looking right. Then it's almost at a year and six months and I go for another checkup and things still aren't looking right."​
Someone in a white coat tells you your first love is gone, the one you've been courting since you were 4 years old, it's tough. Lex didn't really know anything else. Never needed a job résumé. Never really went through a job interview.​
"When you have to step outside the norm and do something else, it's kind of intimidating," he offered.​




July 30, 2021:


July 30, 2020:


July 30, 2019:




Other pro football players with New England connections born on July 30:

Ben Claxton, 41 (7/30/80)
On April 27, 2003 the Patriots moved eight spots up in the draft, sending their 4th round (128th overall) and 5th round (157th overall) draft picks to the Broncos in exchange for Denver's 4th (120th overall). The Patriots used that selection on CB Asante Samuel. Denver selected Bryant McNeal and Claxton; both were cut during their rookie training camp and neither one ever played for the Broncos.

During the 2008 training camp Claxton was studying for his LSAT when a workout was scheduled for him with the Patriots. That workout never happened; by the time he arrived the Pats had already signed former Detroit Lion Barry Stokes.


Sonny Gordon, 56 (7/30/65)
Gordon grew up in Ohio but was born in Lynn. He was originally a 6th round pick of the Bengals in 1987 who was waived in the final cuts, and picked up by the Buccaneers just after the start of the season. Gordon saw some playing time over seven games on special teams and also recorded six tackles in a backup role. He did not make the roster out of camp the following season, and never played in the NFL again after leaving Tampa Bay.




Other pro football players born on this date include:

- Reggie Roby (1961-2005)
Considered to be one of the best punters in pro football history.

- Robert Porcher, 52 (1969)
Three-time Pro Bowl DE for the Lions played in 187 games from 1992 to 2003.

- Dwight White (1949-2008)
Defensive end on the first four Pittsburgh Steelers super bowl teams.

- Willie Harper, 71 (1950)
Linebacker played for eleven seasons with San Francisco, including their first super bowl championship team.

- Galen Fiss (1931-2006)
Eleven year veteran played linebacker for the Cleveland Browns during the Paul Brown era.
 

captain stone

Hall of Fame Poster
Today in Patriots History
The French Patriot


Happy 56th birthday to Richard 'Le Sack' Tardits
Born July 30, 1965 in Biarritz, France
Patriot LB, 1990-1992; uniform #53
Acquired in a trade with the Phoenix Cardinals on March 23, 1990




Richard Tardits learned to speak English as a high school exchange student in Augusta, Georgia. Against his father's wishes he stayed in the US and became the University of Georgia's career leader in sacks. Tardits played in 27 games for the Patriots over three seasons. Following that Tardits played on the United States national rugby union team, the USA Eagles, from 1993 to 1999.

Richard Tardits, first Basque-born NFL Player

Tardits played rugby at junior level for Biarritz Olympique, and represented the French national side at the same level. Moving to the United States to attend college he took up football and played for the Georgia Bulldogs. There, he held the record for most sacks (until surpassed by David Pollack in 2004), earning the nickname “Le Sack.”​




Below is a detailed and worthwhile biography on the very interesting life of Richard Tardits.


His reluctance for self-aggrandizement is admirable, but seldom has any college had a player who embodied the student athlete concept as did Richard Tardits. You must keep in mind that he didn't grow up from infancy with a familiarity with football or a natural appreciation of the nuances of the popular American sport. When he was a senior, he was studying for a Masters degree, taking 25 hours. There was an NCAA rule that stipulated that he could only take 22 hours, so he audited courses like art appreciation, photography, and typing, the last a skill he knew he would need one day in the business world. When he earned an NCAA postgraduate scholarship, a remarkable achievement for someone who learned to speak English as a high school exchange student in Augusta, Georgia, where he visited longtime family friend, Dr. Edouard Servy, he took the money and learned to fly an airplane and maintains an active pilot's license today.​



There is also this, more relevant to Patriots fans:

From that point on, Richard played and practiced with the heart of a lion while placing unending emphasis on his academic options. Looking back, he realizes that his academic emphasis was not in his best interests in regard to an NFL career but has no regrets. "I was in the middle of working for my MBA degree and did not prepare for the NFL combine as a result," Richard said. Yet he knew what he had to do to make the team in the specialized NFL system. With his speed, he learned to cover backs out of the backfield and made the team at Arizona. Traded to the New England Patriots, he knew he was a better pass rusher than Andre Tippett, who was getting by on experience. "Once you are established in the NFL, they are not going to cut you if you have experience," he said.​

The then-lowly Patriots made a move for rebirth and hired Bill Parcells. By this time, Richard was injured. After a team meeting, Parcells told him, "You won't be well by training camp, so we are going to release you." Tardits knew the rules and said, "Coach I am injured, you cannot cut me." Parcells curt reply, was, "Sue me."​

That did not offend Richard, who understands how cutthroat business is in the NFL. "Parcells was right. I would not have recovered by training camp." With no place for bitterness in his life, Tardits holds no grudge and says wistfully, "I would have liked to have played for a coach like Parcells." While in Boston, Richard applied for Harvard Law School and was admitted, but he knew he could not play in the NFL and take classes, so he opted not to enroll--one of the few regrets in his life.​


Some more articles on Richard Tardits:

Richard Tardits scores for the USA, versus Ireland in 1996​



Nicknamed “Le Sack” by Bulldog fans due to his French heritage, Tardis’ story could be turned into a movie one day. The Bayonne, France native tried out for the football team as an exchange student, making quite an impression on hall of fame coach Vince Dooley. His rugby background in France stood out to Dooley and helped him see the field early on special teams.​

“Le Sack” was a rough and tough athlete who loved contact. If anyone played football like a bulldog would, it was Richard Tardis. His style of play was aggressive, and his motor tough to stop. Tardits played at Georgia from 1985-1988, and left as the school’s all-time career sack leader with 29.​

Even as a former walk-on, it’s safe to say Tardits was one of the most productive defensive ends in school history. After his playing days in Athens, Tardits was drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 5th round of the 1989 NFL Draft. He spent four seasons in the NFL, with three of them coming in New England. Tardits played in 27 total games in his NFL career before moving to Hong Kong to play professional rugby.​

While many remember him for his football days, there are others who remember him as a U.S.A Rugby star. After his days in Hong Kong where he would meet his wife, Tardits helped the United States team win the Rugby World Cup in 1999.​

There are plenty of special people and amazing stories that come through the University of Georgia, but none will be as cool as Richard Tardits’.​



Ladies & gentlemen, introducing the Most Interesting Man in the World...Richard Tardits!
 

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