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Greatest Presidential Patriots in Franchise History

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Quarterback Ken Stabler of the Oakland Raiders is sacked behind the lines by Julius Adams (85) of the New England Patriots in the first period of National Football League Playoff Game on Saturday, Dec. 18, 1976 in Oakland. Moving in at left is Ray Hamilton of the Patriots. (AP Photo)

Today is Presidents’ Day but every day on this site is New England Patriots Day. So why not combine the two? The Patriots franchise has featured 76 players who share a surname with a President of the United States. This list does not include players who spell their name differently than the POTUS (i.e. Larry Eisenhauer) or have the president’s last name as their first name. The list also includes the three Patriots players with the surname King, which was the original last name of Gerald Ford.

Of those 76 presidential Patriots, here are the ten greatest in franchise history.

10. Andre Carter, DE (2011, 2013)

Carter edged out DT Ted Washington for tenth place on the list. Both had brief but very productive stints in New England. During Carter’s first season in New England, he helped the Patriots win the AFC Championship. He finished with 10.0 sacks and was selected to the Pro Bowl. Unfortunately, Andre Carter was injured in Week 14 and missed the Patriots playoff run. Had that injury been avoided, New England might have had a fourth Super Bowl trophy three years earlier than they did.

(photo credit Jeffrey Beall, CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

9. Harold Jackson (1978-1981)

His best seasons may have come with the Eagles and Rams, but Harold Jackson was still a force for the Patriots. Jackson played in all 64 games during his New England run, and their lone playoff game as well. When Jackson made a catch he made the most of it. He averaged 20.3 yards per reception during his Patriots career, which is still first in franchise history. Jackson finished his four seasons in Foxboro with 156 receptions for 3,162 yards and 18 touchdowns.

8. Andy Johnson, RB (1974-1982)

Andy Johnson played all nine of his NFL seasons in New England. He rushed for 2,017 yards and picked up an additional 1,807 yards receiving. Johnson also scored 22 touchdowns. He even threw four touchdown passes. When he retired in 1982 he was eighth on the Patriots career list in yards from scrimmage and ninth in all-purpose yards.

7. Shawn Jefferson (1996-1999)

The wide receiver helped the 1996 New England Patriots win the AFC Championship, just the second in franchise history. He had 91 receiving yards in the AFC Championship Game that season. In 1997 he led the Patriots in receiving yards. The following season Shawn Jefferson led the entire NFL in yards per reception (22.7). He was WR2 behind Terry Glenn during his time with the team. Jefferson finished his four seasons in Foxboro with 178 receptions, 3,081 receiving yards, and caught 14 touchdowns.

6. Eugene Wilson (2003-2007)

Wilson won two Super Bowls during his five seasons in Foxboro. New England selected Eugene Wilson in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft. He was a starting safety on two championship squads during his first two seasons in the league. Wilson amassed 146 tackles, 21 passes defended, and 10 interceptions in those first two years, including postseason. Wilson’s most memorable performance as a Patriot came in the 2004 AFC Championship Game when he intercepted Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger twice.

5. Sam Adams (1972-1980)

Sam Adams played for the New England Patriots for the first nine years of his 10-year NFL career.  He was the team’s starting right guard, opposite John Hannah on the left side. Adams played in 121 games for New England, including playoffs. He was a key cog in a dominant Patriots offensive line in the 1970s that featured Leon Gray (LT), John Hannah (LG), Bill Lenkatis (C), Sam Adams (RG), and Tom Neville (RT). A tremendously underrated group that opened up lanes for Sam Cunningham and protected Steve Grogan.

4. J.C. Jackson (2018-2021, 2023)

The first run of J.C. Jackson in New England was awe-inspiring. He went from an undrafted free agent to an All-Pro within four seasons. As a rookie, he was part of the New England Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl championship team. In his second NFL season, he became a reliable cornerback in addition to his work on special teams. By season three he blossomed into an excellent cornerback, leading the team with nine interceptions. But in 2021 Jackson went from very good to great. The man dubbed “Mr. INT” led the entire NFL in passes defended (21) and tallied eight interceptions. He made the Pro Bowl and was named second-team All-Pro. He returned for a reunion with the Patriots in 2023, but the results were not as positive.

3. Ted Johnson (1995-2004)

Johnson helped New England win four AFC Championships and three Super Bowls during his 10-year run with the franchise. Ted Johnson led the Patriots in tackles in 1996 (115) and 1997 (127). Johnson had trouble staying healthy following that 1997. It was the last season he played in every game until his final season in 2004. His final game was Super Bowl 39 where he lifted his third Lombardi Trophy. He retired with 760 tackles, 11.5 sacks, seven fumble recoveries, five forced fumbles, and an interception. Despite never being selected for a Pro Bowl, Ted Johnson was consistently a solid player when he was on the field for a decade.

2. Rodney Harrison (2003-2008)

One of two Patriots Hall of Fame members on the list, Rodney Harrison is still waiting for the call from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Harrison played his final six seasons in Foxboro. He helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl in each of his first two seasons in New England. During those championship runs, Harrison had six interceptions in six playoff games. He proved to play his best when it mattered most. He was also the starting safety on the 2007 Patriots, the first NFL team to finish with a 16-0 regular season record.

1. Julius Adams (1971-1987)

Adams retired in 1986 having played more games for the New England Patriots than any other player in franchise history. Julius Adams remains fourth on the list 37 years later, trailing only Tom Brady, Matthew Slater, and Bruce Armstrong. While Adams is best remembered by some for his longevity, he was an incredibly productive player. His 80.5 career sacks are second in franchise history behind only Pro Football Hall of Fame linebacker Andre Tippett. In 1976 he had 3.0 sacks when the Patriots lost a controversion 27-24 playoff game to the Raiders. Adams was also a starter on the 1985 AFC Champion New England Patriots team, the first squad in franchise history to reach the Super Bowl. His continued absence from the Patriots Hall of Fame remains a head-scratcher.