Steve Little (American football)
|Date of birth:February 19, 1956|
|Place of birth: Springfield, Illinois|
|Date of death: September 6, 1999(aged 43)|
|Place of death: Little Rock, Arkansas|
|NFL Draft: 1978 / Round: 1 / Pick: 15|
|Debuted in 1978|
|Last played in 1980|
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Steven Richard Little (February 19, 1956 – September 6, 1999) was an American football kicker and punter in the National Football League for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is the third-highest drafted kicker in NFL history, with first highest pick being Charlie Gogolak of Princeton University and second being Russell Erxleben. Little was drafted higher than future NFL greats Ozzie Newsome and Dennis Thurman. Little was an All-American placekicker and punter during his years at the University of Arkansas. He kicked an NCAA record-tying 67-yard field goal in 1977. That record has yet to be broken; Little shares the record with Joe Williams of Wichita State University and Russell Erxleben of the University of Texas.
High school and college career
Little played high school football for Shawnee Mission South High School in Overland Park, Kansas where he was an All-State quarterback and defensive back. He was recruited to play football for the University of Arkansas by legendary Arkansas head coach Frank Broyles. Broyles later said that he initially recruited Little to play quarterback since Joe Ferguson had recently graduated and entered the NFL. However Little's kicking abilities so impressed Broyles that they utilized him in that position. Also coach Bo Rein had recently accepted an assistant coaching position with Arkansas, and was bringing with him high school standout quarterback Ron Calcagni.
In 1976 behind the passing skills of quarterback Ron Calcagni and the rushing of eventual NFL running back Ben Cowins, Little helped Arkansas in its defeat of the University of Georgia in the Cotton Bowl. In 1978 he helped the Razorbacks to a 1978 Orange Bowl victory over the University of Oklahoma. In that Orange Bowl game Arkansas running back Roland Sales rushed for 205 yards, an Orange Bowl record that stood until 1998 when Ahman Green rushed for 206 yards in the Orange Bowl. Defensively future Chicago Bears star Dan Hampton shut down the Oklahoma running game. In both those bowl games Little set team PAT records for bowl games, kicking 4 in each. He also set a team record for points with 280. During Little's career with Arkansas the Razorbacks went 10-2 in 1975, 5-5-1 in 1976, 11-1 in 1977 and 9-2-1 in 1978. In the latter Arkansas' 1 tie game was against UCLA during the Fiesta Bowl. During his final year at Arkansas Little played under head coach Lou Holtz.
Dismal professional career, tragedy
Despite the anticipation surrounding his kicking skills demonstrated in college, Little performed at a dismal level while he was with the Cardinals. He served as both punter and placekicker. In his brief NFL career he punted for a total of 4,809 yards while placekicking with a disappointing overall percentage of 48.1% over three professional seasons. He did kick 51-yard field goal, the fifth longest in Cardinals history. However, Little's problems off the field also caused him issues with the team, and on October 16, 1980 he was replaced six games into the 1980 season by kicker Neil O'Donoghue.
Just hours after he had been released by the Cardinals, Little was involved in a single car accident which broke his neck and left him a quadraplegic. Little died at the age of 43 having spent years as a quadraplegic in hospice in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he lived with and was cared for by his brother Gene Little. Little is on the All-Century team at Arkansas, and is also listed as #11 on the list of greatest Arkansas football players of all time.
- Mark. "The Highest Drafted Kickers in NFL History". IQFB. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- "October 24 - Welcome Home Joe". Official Website of Wichita State Athletics. October 24, 2008. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- Hoghelmet[dead link]
- Associated Press (September 7, 1999). "Former Arkansas football star Steve Little dies at 43". Nevada Daily Mail. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- "Steve Little". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- "Steve Little". National Football League. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- Aaron Schafer (January 28, 2009). "The Ghosts of St. Louis Football, Part 2". Riverfront Times. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- "Kicker, Cut by Cards, Paralyzed in Crash; Coach Cites Extreme Stress". New York Times. October 17, 1980. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- Lindsey Tugman (July 2, 2008). "No. 11 Greatest Razorback of All Time: Steve Little". Little Rock, Arkansas: KTHV Channel 11. Retrieved March 28, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from NFL.com • Pro-Football-Reference
- Steve Little at Find a Grave