Sportress of Blogitude

Former Patriots Running Back John M. Stephens Dead At 43


John M. Stephens, best known for his time spent playing for the New England Patriots from 1988-1992 and winning 1988 Offensive Rookie of the Year honors, tragically died Tuesday in a one vehicle accident in Shreveport, Louisiana. Stephens also played for the Packers, Falcons and Chiefs until his playing career came to an end in 1993.

“He had a fantastic rookie year. For that period of time that he had success as a running back, there was nobody better,’’ Andre Tippett, Hall of Famer and Patriots executive director of community affairs, said last night. “It was amazing watching him. He really kind of shocked everybody when he came into the league. He brought it. He was a tough competitor. It was special watching him run.’’

Stephens will be remembered fondly as a punishing runner but perhaps just as much for his community service. He received the Gale Sayers Humanitarian Citation in 1988, which is given to the NFL rookie who does the most for their community.

My thoughts and sympathies go out to his family, friends and the entire New England Patriots organization. I wish I could extend the same to Patriots fans, but since he played for the team before 2001, most of the current fanbase probably wouldn’t have any idea who in the hell I was referring to.

John Stephens, 43; Patriots back was ’88 Rookie of Year [The Boston Globe]