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Bucko Kilroy, legendary NFL player and executive, dies at 86

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are saddened to learn that Francis “Bucko” Kilroy, veteran of 64 NFL seasons as a player, coach, scout, executive and consultant, passed away today at the age of 86.

Kilroy was a member of the New England Patriots organization for the past 36 years, serving as personnel director (1971-78), general manager (1979-82), vice president (1983-93) and scouting consultant (1994-2007). He was a contributor to 14 of the club’s 15 playoff seasons, including all five of the franchise’s trips to the Super Bowl.

Kilroy began his professional football career in 1943 playing for the wartime “Steagles” (the combined Pittsburgh Steelers and Philadelphia Eagles during World War II). During his 13 seasons with the Eagles, he earned All-Pro honors six times, three as an offensive guard (1947-49) and three as a defensive middle guard (1952-1954). In 1948 and 1949, his Eagles team became the only squad in history to post back-to-back shutouts in championship games. He once played in 146 consecutive games, then a league record, and was named to the NFL’s all-decade team for the 1940s. During his final three seasons with the Eagles, Kilroy was as a player/coach before serving as a full-time line coach for six seasons. He also served as the Eagles’ player personnel director during that time, becoming one of the five original talent scouts in the league. In 1962, he was named director of player personnel for the Washington Redskins and later served as a “super scout” for the Dallas Cowboys from 1966-1970 before joining the Patriots.

Kilroy was revered in NFL scouting circles, having started many of the scouting services that became fixtures in the NFL. He was also one of the founders of the National Football Scouting Combine, one of the most important personnel events on the NFL’s current offseason calendar. While he was with the Cowboys’ personnel department, the team won five straight division championships. As personnel director of the Patriots, Kilroy was responsible for selecting the team’s two Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, John Hannah (1973) and Mike Haynes (1976). He is credited with building some of the best teams in Patriots’ history, drafting Julius Adam, Hannah, Sam Cunningham, Steve Nelson, Russ Francis and Steve Grogan during his first five years as personnel director (1971-75). Over the next three years (1976-78), the Patriots compiled a 31-13 record (.705), including two playoff appearances. Over his 64-year career, Kilroy tutored numerous personnel analysts who went on to head NFL scouting departments.

Kilroy was born in May 30, 1921 in Philadelphia. He was a long-time resident of Foxborough, Massachusetts.

Information regarding the funeral services are not available at this time, but will be distributed once the arrangements have been finalized.

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