Floyd Little

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Floyd Little
Floyd Little.JPG
At his Denver Broncos Ring of Fame ceremony in 2010.
Born (1942-07-04) 4 July 1942 (age 71)
New Haven, Connecticut
Position(s) Halfback
College Syracuse
Common Draft 1967 / Round 1 Pick 6
Jersey #(s) 44
Career highlights
AFL All-Star 1968, 1969
Pro Bowl
1970, 1971, 1973
Honors Denver Broncos Ring of Fame
AFL Denver Broncos
NFL Denver Broncos
College Football Hall of Fame, 1983
Pro Football Hall of Fame, 2010

Floyd Douglas Little (born July 4, 1942) is a Pro Football Hall of Fame running back,[1] and was a three-time American football All-American running back at Syracuse University. In 1967 he was the 6th selection of the first common AFL-NFL draft. He was the first ever first-round draft pick to sign with the American Football League's Denver Broncos where he was known simply as "The Franchise."



Floyd was successfully recruited by Syracuse U. in part by a declining Ernie Davis, he was also at the time offered a place as a plebe at West Point by Gen Douglas MacArthur. (see ESPN News, Nov. 2011).

Little was the only three time All-American running back to compete for the Syracuse University Orangemen.[2]

Little wore the famous SU #44 subsequent to Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis, and the Great Jim Brown. Also prior to Michael Owens and Rob Konrad (SU web site). He led the college nation in all purpose yards in 1966 (ESPN). He teamed with Larry Csonka to lead the Orange to the 1966 Gator Bowl (Gator Bowl web site). He was well known for running the scissors play, an inside reverse where he began the play at wingback.

Professional career[edit]

In 1975, Floyd Little retired as the NFL's 7th all-time leading rusher with 6,323 yards rushing and 54 total touchdowns (rushing, receiving and returns). He also threw a TD pass to receiver Jerry Simmons in a 1972 upset over the Oakland Raiders. During his rookie year, Little led the NFL in punt returns with a 16.9-yard average. He led the NFL in combined yards in 1967 and 1968. Little was Denver Broncos team captain all 9 seasons including his rookie season.[3]

NFL's Top 10 all-time leading rushers at the time of Little's retirement in 1975: 1. Jim Brown 12,312 1957-65 2. Joe Perry 9,723 1948-63 3. Jim Taylor 8,597 1958-67 4. O.J. Simpson 8,123 1969-75 5. Leroy Kelly 7,274 1964-73 6. John H. Johnson 6,803 1954-66 7. Floyd Little 6,323 1967-75 8. Don Perkins 6,217 1961-68 9. Ken Willard 6,105 1965-74 10. Larry Csonka 5,900 1968-75

Little was a charter member of the Broncos Ring of Fame in 1984, which included Rich Jackson, Lionel Taylor and Goose Gonsoulin. He was the first Bronco to win a rushing title, leading the AFC in rushing in 1970 with 901 yards and the following year he became the first Bronco to eclipse 1,000 yards, gaining 1,133 to lead the NFL. Little was the first player to lead his conference in rushing for a last place team [4] and the 13th player ever in professional football to rush for at least 1,000 yards in one season.[5] He was an American Football League All-Star in 1968, named first-team "All-AFL" in 1969, and made the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl in 1970, 1971 and 1973. At 5'10" and 195 pounds, Little was the smallest back to lead the league in rushing since World War II. He led the league in combined yards in 1967 & 68 and was the only player to return punts for TDs in both seasons. During a 6-year period, 1968-1973, Little rushed for more yards and more yards from scrimmage (rushing & receiving) than any RB in the NFL.[6]

In his final game at Mile High Stadium, Little scored 2 TDs including a 66-yarder off a screen pass while accounting for 150 yards from scrimmage in a snowy 25-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. The fans stormed the field and hoisted Little on their shoulders in celebration.

He finished his NFL career with more than 12,000 total yards, a Broncos record that lasted more than 30 years until Rod Smith broke it in 2006.

In 2009 Little was a finalist for induction into the Hall of Fame. [1] He was voted in on February 6, 2010, his induction took place in Canton, OH on August 7, 2010.[2] Little was the first Bronco to have his jersey number "44" officially retired.

Post football[edit]

Little coached at the University of California, Santa Barbara when the university briefly reinstated NCAA football in the mid-eighties. He briefly served as a Football analyst for NBC in the late 1970s, and was featured as a contestant on Family Feud in the mid-2000s. Little is a member of The Pigskin Club Of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll. In 1983 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Little returned to Syracuse University in July 2011 in the role of special assistant to the athletics director. He assists the program he represented so well as a football student-athlete and alumnus. The three-time All-American and five-time Pro Bowl selection is responsible for development and donor relations, assisting with student-athlete and team development and prospective student-athlete on-campus recruitment activities. In addition, he handles special projects as assigned by the director of athletics and he serves in many capacities for the athletics department.

A three-time All-American and 1966 ECAC Player of the Year at Syracuse, Little was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Professional Football Hall of Fame in 2010. He is one of 18 Syracuse representatives to be enshrined in the College Hall of Fame and one of seven with Syracuse ties to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. In May 2012, Little was honored at his alma mater James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn., as part of the "Hometown Hall of Famer™" program.

The recipient of more than 18 professional athlete achievement awards and more than 32 distinguished community service awards during his career, Little is enshrined in seven Halls of Fame. In January 2012, he was recognized by the Walter Camp Football Foundation as its Distinguished American and in 2013 was honored with the PwC Doak Walker Legends Award.

In 1974 alone, Little received three of the most prestigious community service awards, including the YMCA Brian Piccolo Award, The Distinguished American Award for Community Service presented by the Connecticut Hall of Fame, and the American Jewish Community Appeal for Human Relations Citation in recognition of the outstanding contributions he made toward the betterment of man and his community.

In addition to the College and Pro Football Halls of Fame, Little has been honored as a Syracuse University LetterWinner of Distinction and recognized by the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame, the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame, the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame, and the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame. In 1992, Little was recognized with the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.


Little finished 40th in his class of 140 at the University of Denver law school, from which he received his masters in legal administration degree in 1975. Little owned automobile dealerships in Denver, the Seattle area and Santa Barbara,[7] though he is believed to be retired.

He graduated from Bordentown Military Institute (BMI), Bordentown, NJ, in 1963. He was portrayed in the 2008 Ernie Davis biopic The Express by Chadwick Boseman.

Floyd Little has authored two books about his life: "Tales from the Broncos Sideline" in 2006; and "Promises to Keep: My Inspired Run from Syracuse to Denver to the Hall" was released in August 2012. Both books were co-authored by NFL sportswriter Tom Mackie. Little and Mackie were featured in the July 26, 2010, issue of Sports Illustrated "The Unexpected Hero" by award-winning writer Gary Smith.

Awards and honors[edit]

  • On September 15, 2011, the New Haven Athletic Center, billed as the largest scholastic athletics facility in New England, was renamed the Floyd Little Athletic Center.[8]


Year Team Games Rushing Receiving
Attempts Yards Y/A TDs Rec Yards Y/R TDs
1967 Denver Broncos 13 130 381 2.9 1 7 11 1.6 0
1968 Denver Broncos 11 158 584 3.7 3 19 331 17.4 1
1969 Denver Broncos 9 146 729 5.0 6 19 218 11.5 1
1970 Denver Broncos 14 209 901 4.3 3 17 161 9.5 0
1971 Denver Broncos 13 284 1133 4.0 6 26 255 9.8 0
1972 Denver Broncos 14 216 859 4.0 9 28 367 13.1 4
1973 Denver Broncos 14 256 979 3.8 12 41 423 10.3 1
1974 Denver Broncos 14 117 312 2.7 1 29 344 11.9 0
1975 Denver Broncos 14 125 445 3.6 2 29 308 10.6 2
Career Denver Broncos 117 1641 6323 3.9 43 215 2418 11.2 9

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Legwold, Jeff (24 September 2010). "Floyd Little receiving Hall of Fame ring at Sunday's Broncos game". Denver Post. Retrieved 6 February 2011. 
  2. ^ Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.60, Published by Time Inc.
  3. ^ Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.60, Published by Time Inc.
  4. ^ Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.60, Published by Time Inc.
  5. ^ Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.63, Published by Time Inc.
  6. ^ Floyd Little's Tales from the Broncos Sideline by Floyd Little and Tom Mackie
  7. ^ Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.57, Published by Time Inc.
  8. ^ Ehalt, Bob. "Renaming of Athletic Center Means a Lot to Floyd Little." New Haven Register - Serving Greater New Haven, CT. 10 Sept. 2011. Web. 15 Sept. 2011. <http://nhregister.com/articles/2011/09/10/sports/doc4e6bba8add545752245303.txt?viewmode=fullstory>.

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