The Boston Patriots of the 1960s fielded some of the franchise’s most iconic players — from Gino Cappelletti to Jim Lee Hunt to Houston Antwine to Babe Parilli. Jack Rudolph’s is not among the first names that come to mind when thinking about this era of Patriots football, but he was one of the core players of the team’s early years and helped establish the club as a serious organization. On Sunday, June 23, Rudolph passed away at the age of 82.
Born in St. Louis in 1937, Rudolph’s athletic career began in Georgia: the multi-sport athlete eventually earned a football scholarship from Georgia Tech, where he became a three-time letter winner between 1957 and 1959. His college success put him on the pro football map; after originally being drafted by the NFL’s Detroit Lions in 1959, Rudolph decided to join the newly founded AFL when the Patriots made him a second-round pick the following year.
Rudolph spent six seasons in Boston, during which he appeared in a combined 66 games for the team as a linebacker. During his tenure with the club, the Patriots went 40-26-4 and also made the AFL Championship Game to cap the 1963 season. After his 1965 campaign, the original Patriot joined another newly founded team, the Miami Dolphins. He spent one season in Miami before retiring from actively participating in the game.
Eventually, Rudolph and his wife Marsha— the couple got married in 1965 and stayed together until his death last week — settled in Valdosta, Georgia. There, the ex-pro football player spent 31 years as a coach and teacher at Valdosta High School. For 25 years, Rudolph served as the school’s defensive coordinator, earning eleven state and five national titles. He was later inducted into the Valdosta/Lowndes County Sports Hall of Fame.
Our thoughts are with Rudolph’s family and friends!