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May 27 in Pats History: Tony Collins

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Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Tony Collins

Happy 62nd birthday to Tony Collins
Born May 27, 1959 in Sanford, Florida
Patriot RB/KR, 1981-1987; uniform #33
Pats second round (47th overall) selection of the 1981 draft, from East Carolina

Tony Collins rushed for 4,647 yards with New England , which still ranks as third most in franchise history. By the end of the 1987 season his 32 rushing touchdowns was the third most (tied with Curtis Martin for sixth most now). He was also adept catching the ball out of the backfield, at one top holding the club record for receptions by a running backs with 261 (now 3rd), ranks fourth in receiving yards (2,356, behind only Kevin Faulk, James White and Larry Garron). At that time the 261 career receptions was the third most in team history overall regardless of position, and today still ranks as 14th most. Collins also had 12 receiving touchdowns, a franchise record for running backs that lasted for more than two decades. (White and Faulk are the only RBs with more.)

Collins also had 1,520 touches (third most), 7,003 yards from scrimmage (fifth) and 8,353 all-purpose yardage (sixth) with the Patriots, and his 44 touchdowns ranks seventh on the career leader board. Tony Collins was named to the 1983 and 1984 Pro Bowls, and is a member of the New England Patriots All-Decade Team for the 1980s.

Dec 13, 2012:

In high school and college, he strove to spend more time in the weight room than anyone else, to be first on the field and last off it. Holder of multiple records at East Carolina University, he was drafted in the second round by the Patriots in 1981 and became an instant starter.​

But while success seemed to come easily to the young man from ECU, injuries began to take their toll. Collins began taking pain killers for his neck, but found they nauseated him. A friend recommended marijuana, which seemed to relieve his discomfort. But it wasn’t enough.​

“Then the marijuana turned into cocaine, and that took away everything I loved,” he said.​

The public learned of Collins’s drug abuse almost immediately after the team lost its first Super Bowl to the Chicago Bears in 1986, when the Boston Globe carried the news that six members of the AFC Champion Patriots team had tested positive for drugs.​

Collins was banned from the league for a year after testing positive a third time for marijuana and cocaine. He was later reinstated, but a move to the Dolphins didn’t work out because of Collins’s damaged knees.​

Collins said pride and his self-image as a football star probably interfered with him getting help in fighting drug use.​

“I thought, ‘hey, I’m Tony Collins. I can handle my problems. I’ve got this,’ ” he said. “Well, I didn’t have it. It had me.”​

The former star running back said he began to master his addiction and turn his life around seven years ago, when he met his current wife. He said she had a “different way of thinking about life” that made sense to him.​

Oct 29, 2015:

His work wasn’t done yet. He entered training camp third on the depth chart behind Vagas Ferguson and Horace Ivory, but he said, in his mind, he was always the No. 1 running back.​
In the second week of training camp, Ivory got injured. Collins continued to work harder, being the first out on the field and last off of it.​
“Felt bad for Horace, felt real good for Tony,” Collins said to laughs from the audience.​
Ferguson suffered an ankle injury himself two weeks later, earning Collins the top running back spot on the team. Collins would go on to play in all 16 games, tallying 873 rushing and 232 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.​
Collins had the best year of his career in 1983. He made the Pro Bowl after rushing for 1,049 yards and 10 touchdowns while picking up 257 yards through the air as well.​
Then, in 1984, Collins had to make a difficult choice. He had suffered cracked ribs early in the season, and either had to sit down like Ivory and Ferguson before him and have his job taken away, or go on painkillers. He chose the latter, opting to receive cortisone shots before and during games as well to numb the agony.​
“When the medicine wears off, wears down, I’m in so much pain that I can’t even go to sleep, that I cannot even breathe,” Collins said. “So I have to take all these painkillers just to go to sleep. And I’m taking painkillers all through practice and all through the year, and the painkillers were tearing up my stomach.”​
As he became addicted to painkillers, he also began smoking marijuana to relieve nausea. He ended up being randomly tested by the NFL, failing two drug tests and getting cut by New England after the second infraction in 1988.​
He was signed by the Indianapolis Colts the next day and promised himself that he would stay clean after receiving a second chance. If he failed another drug test, he would have been suspended an entire season, so he stayed away from marijuana. However, he chose to attend a party four weeks into training camp and, despite not actually smoking any marijuana, the secondhand smoke around him was enough to result in a third failed drug test.​
He played one more season in 1990 for the Miami Dolphins before retiring, he said, as a “failure.”​

Jan 29, 2013:

Feb 11, 2016: Audio:



Staff member
Today in Patriots History
Another Collins Birthday

Happy 51st birthday to Todd Collins
Born May 27, 1970 in New Market, Tennessee
Patriot LB, 1992-1998; uniform #54 ('92-'94); #59 ('96-'98)
Pats 3rd round (64th overall) selection of the 1992 draft, from Carson-Newman

Todd Collins had earned a scholarship to Georgia, but after an injury he transferred to Tennessee for one semester, and then Division II Carson-Newman. While there the Eagles (enrollment: 2,500) won the 1989 NAIA championship.

Collins played in 76 games with 53 starts over six seasons in New England. He had 92 tackles in 1993 and 99 in 1997, before taking a leave of absence for the entire 1995 season at the age of 25. Collins played in two superbowls: for the Patriots in their loss to Green Bay, and after he signed as a free agent for St Louis in 1999, in their win over Tennessee.

His departure from the Patriots was inadvertently Collins' greatest contribution to the franchise, as the number of free agent losses versus free agent signings resulted in the Pats receiving a compensatory draft pick: number 199 in the 2000 draft.

And just in case anybody was wondering, this Todd Collins is not related to RB Tony Collins, nor backup QB Todd Collins from Walpole.

“Parcells worked us hard in that first preseason,” Collins remembered. “He wanted players who were willing to make the sacrifices in working to get better and improve the team. He didn’t want prima donnas. I got my break when the guy playing ahead of me started mouthing off to Parcells one day at practice. Parcells called me to come in to replace him and that guy was gone soon.”​
The 1996 campaign found Parcells’ rebuilding program — with Collins playing a major role in the process — come to fruition when New England won the AFC East with a 10-6 mark before defeating Pittsburgh and Jacksonville to reach the Super Bowl at New Orleans against the Green Bay Packers.​
“The Packers were a very good team and they were fired up because they had not been to a Super Bowl in almost 30 years,” said Collins of the Patriots’ 35-21 loss.​
Collins said one of the strongest memories of that game was afterwards when Parcells made it obvious to his team that he was going to retire.​
“Parcells was not one to get emotional, but he had tears in his eyes and his voice was cracking,” Collins said. “We knew he was leaving.”​
One of Parcells’ chief aides that season was current Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, who had been fired the previous season as coach of the Cleveland Browns.​
“You won’t see Bill Belichick’s name listed with that ’96 team as an assistant coach, but he was working behind the scenes with everything going on,” Collins said. “He also established a strong relationship with (Patriots owner) Robert Kraft and that was a key to Kraft hiring Belichick a few years later as coach.​

He was a freak of an athlete, but he also was a very early adopter of plyometrics, etc.
Think Nate might be faster, but keep in mind this was the 80's & Todd was basically training himself w/VHS tapes.


Staff member
Today in Patriots History
More May 27 Pats Events

May 27, 2007: Marquise Hill goes missing after falling off a jet ski in Louisiana; his body was found the following afternoon.

Happy 65th birthday to Bo Robinson
Born May 27, 1956 in Lamesa, Texas
Patriot FB/TE, 1984; uniform #41
Signed as a veteran free agent August 29, 1984

Melvin Dell 'Bo' Robinson was a special teamer from West Texas A&M, appearing in all 16 games with one start in '84. His 3rd quarter touchdown reception gave the Pats a lead they would not relinquish in week 5 at the Jets. Bo was originally a third round draft pick by Detroit in 1979; the 1984 campaign was the last of his six seasons in the NFL. Over his career Bo appeared in 80 games with 22 starts, primarily with the Lions and Falcons.

Happy 65th birthday to Nick Lowery
Born May 27, 1956 in Munich, Germany
Patriot K, 1978; uniform #7

Undrafted out of Dartmouth, Lowery appeared in two games for the Pats in '78, filling in while John Smith had a thigh injury. The Pats went 2-0 in those games with Lowery going 7-7 on extra points, while missing on his only field goal attempt, from 46 yards. He was cut 11 times by eight teams before replacing Hall of Famer Jan Stenerud in Kansas City.

Lowery then proceeded to make a mockery of those eight previous assessments. Over the course of an 18-year NFL career Lowery kicked 383 field goals, which at that time was an NFL record. He also scored a total of 1,711 points (which ranked second in NFL history at that point in time), and had the best field goal percentage in league history when he retired.

Missouri Sports Hall of Fame | Nick Lowery

Chiefs Hall of Honor | Nick Lowery

Audio Podcast:

Happy 60th birthday to Frank Bianchini
May 27, 1961 in East Islip, New York
Patriot RB, 1987; uniform #30

Frank Bianchini played in the final strike-replacement game in '87, with no stats. In 1988 he joined the New England Steamrollers of the Arena Football League as a defensive back, his first of five seasons playing arena ball.

May 27, 2009: Patriots sign veteran free agent ILB Paris Lenon
At the time New England was on shaky ground for the second inside linebacker position to play alongside Jerod Mayo. Tedy Bruschi was 36 (he would retire before the season began, and promising third round draft pick Tyrone McKenzie blew out his knee on the first day of rookie minicamp. That left two players who had primarily been special teamers to that point (second year man Gary Guyton and veteran Eric Alexander), and UDFA Antonio Appleby. Guyton impressed enough to start all 16 games, Alexander was retained for his ST play, and Lenon was released on Sept 5.

That was not the end of the road for Lenon, though. He played in the NFL for five more years for the Rams, Cardinals and Broncos. Over twelve NFL seasons he missed just three games - two of which came in his final year at the age of 36.

Other pro football players born on this date with New England connections:

Jackie Slater, 67 (May 27, 1954)
Better known by some younger fans simply as Matt Slater's dad, the elder Slater was named to seven Pro Bowls at tackle for the Rams, playing in 259 games before being inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2001. He was named the NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year four times, and was the first player in the history of the NFL to play twenty years for one team.

Sean McHugh, 39 (5/27/82); born in Springfield MA.
Sean McHugh was a FB/TE who played in 40 games with Green Bay, Detroit and Pittsburgh from 2004-08. A 7th round pick by Tennessee in '04, he played in all 3 playoff games en route to winning a ring with the Steelers following the '08 season.

Tom Budrewicz, 83 (5/27/38); grew up in Greenfield MA and went to Brown University.
Tom was a guard who got in to a couple of games for the 1961 New York Titans.

Larry Ellis (5/27/22); grew up in York, Maine and also went to Cheshire Academy in CT.
Ellis was an All-American LB at Syracuse who played in four games for the Lions in 1948 before blowing out his knee, ending his NFL career.

Dimp Halloran (5/27/1896); Framingham native and early Boston College star.
Dimp was a tailback for the Hartford Blues in 1926, the only year that Connecticut had an NFL team.

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- Tom Dean (5/27/1923); LT for the 1946-47 Boston Yanks.
- Dale Waters (5/27/1909); RT for the 1932-33 Boston Braves.
- Lloyd Young (5/27/1903); G/E for the 1925-27 Providence Steamroller.