JIM NANTZ…NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH JIM NANCE
Age before beauty…
James Solomon “Big Jim” Nance was a force of nature.
In 1963 and 1965, competing for Syracuse University, he was the NCAA Heavyweight wrestling champion and received All-America accolades.
But football was his thing.
Hailing from Indiana, Pennsylvania, Nance started for the Orangemen for three seasons.
As a bruising 260 lb. running back.
Pretty much before that was a thing.
In 1964 he tied the school record for career touchdowns (13) and led the team in rushing, scoring in ten straight games.
A 4th round pick of the NFL’s Chicago Bears (#45 overall) in ’65, Nance opted to sign with the AFL’s Boston Patriots, who selected him with the sixth pick in the 19th round.
Not a typo.
What was he thinking?
His thinking turned out to be sound.
Although his rookie season was nothing to crow about, “Big Jim’s” raging wrath as a running back was incurred and on full display thereafter.
With a fury.
He led the AFL in rushing the next two seasons.
He became the only AFL player ever to rush for more than 1,400 yards in a season.
The quintessential power back carried 299 times in 1966, good for 1,458 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Included was a 208-yard effort and a pair of TDs, in a 24–21 victory over the Oakland Raiders.
That year he was an All-Star and the AFL MVP.
In 1967 he was an All-Star again when he became the only player in league annals to post consecutive campaigns with over 1,000 yards rushing, this time compiling 1,216.
He retired as the Patriots’ all-time leader in rushing touchdowns with 45, a franchise record which still stands–56 years later.
Jim Nance never made it to 56; he died at 49 on June 17, 1992.
Now the beauty…
James William Nantz III, 63, began as a sports commentator who has become the preeminent American sportscaster, perhaps ever.
His career launched in the early-1980s.
He’s worked on telecasts of the National Football League, NCAA Division I men’s basketball, the NBA and the PGA Tour for CBS Sports, since then.
He has anchored CBS’ coverage of the Masters Tournament since 1989 and been the lead play-by-play announcer of the NFL on CBS since 2004.
This is 2023.
He made news in late October when Andrew Marchand of the New York Post announced that Nantz would no longer call the NCAA Tournament after this season.
Ian Eagle will take over as the lead voice in 2024.
Nantz has called the tournament for 32 consecutive years.
In 2007, he became the first sports broadcaster in history to complete what has been dubbed “The Triple.”
Calling the Super Bowl; the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship; and the Masters.
All within 60 days!!
He’s done that on several occasions.
Today, Nantz and Tony Romo are the NFL on CBS’ featured pair and have been since 2017, when Romo replaced Phil Simms in the color role.
Romo, who was nothing short of sensational at the outset, is being criticized presently for being a bit distracted, kind of disinterested for whatever reason.
Nobody could ever say that about Jim Nantz.
Or Jim Nance.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in February 2023.]