Floyd Little

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Floyd Little
refer to caption
Little at his Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony in 2010
No. 44
Position:Halfback
Personal information
Born: (1942-07-04) July 4, 1942 (age 78)
New Haven, Connecticut
Height:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Weight:196 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High school:New Haven (CT) Hillhouse
College:Syracuse
NFL Draft:1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:6,323
Rushing average:3.9
Rushing touchdowns:43
Receptions:215
Receiving yards:2,418
Receiving touchdowns:9
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Floyd Douglas Little (born July 4, 1942)[1] is a former American football halfback.[2] He was a three-time All-American at Syracuse University, and 1967 was the sixth 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 as "The Franchise". Little was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

Early life[edit]

Little was born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 4, 1942. He attended the Hillhouse High School in New Haven[3] and the Bordentown Military Institute in Bordentown, New Jersey.[4][5]

College career[edit]

Little was recruited by Gen. Douglas MacArthur to play football at the United States Military Academy and had told him that he'd ascend to the rank of general if he enrolled at West Point. He was also recruited by Notre Dame.[5] Little ultimately chose to attend Syracuse at the persuasion of first African-American Heisman winner Ernie Davis.[6] Little is the only three-time All-American running back to compete for the Syracuse University Orangemen.[7] He finished 5th in Heisman Trophy voting in both 1965 and 1966.

  • 1964: 157 carries for 874 yards and 9 touchdowns. 17 catches for 257 yards and 1 touchdown.[8]
  • 1965: 193 carries for 1065 yards and 14 touchdowns. 21 catches for 248 yards and 1 touchdown.
  • 1966: 162 carries for 811 yards and 12 touchdowns. 13 catches for 86 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Professional career[edit]

In 1975, 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 touchdown 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.[7]

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 [7] and the 13th player ever in professional football to rush for at least 1,000 yards in one season.[9] He was an American Football League All-Star in 1968. In a week 12 win over Buffalo, he caught 4 passes out of the backfield for 165 yards, including a 66-yard touchdown, setting a franchise record of 41.25 yards per reception that still stands.[10] He was 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 and 1968 and was the only player to return punts for touchdowns in both seasons. During a 6-year period, 1968–1973, Little rushed for more yards and more yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving) than any RB in the NFL.[11]

In 2009 Little was a finalist for induction into the Hall of Fame.[12] He was voted in on February 6, 2010, his induction took place in Canton, OH on August 7, 2010.[12]

From July 2011 to June 2016, Little served as the special assistant to the athletic director at Syracuse University.[6][13][14]

Awards and honors[edit]

  • On November 12, 2005, the Syracuse football program retired number 44 to honor Little, Ernie Davis, and Jim Brown, and the eight other players who wore the number.
  • Little was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
  • Little was inducted into the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame on October 1, 1984.[15]
  • On August 7, 2010, Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame alongside Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, Russ Grimm, Rickey Jackson, John Randle, and Dick LeBeau.
  • 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.[3]
  • On May 15, 2016, Little received his honorary doctorate from Syracuse University in Humane Letters.[16][13]
  • On May 17, 2019 Little was awarded the University of Denver's Distinguished Alumni Award and on May 18, 2019 Little was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws as speaker at DU's Sturm College of Law's Commencement Ceremonies
  • Syracuse's football practice facility has a bronze statue of Little alongside Jim Brown and Ernie Davis.[17][18]

Personal life[edit]

Little lives with his wife DeBorah in Las Vegas.[14][17] 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.[6][19] In May 2020, former Syracuse teammate Pat Killorin announced that Little had been fighting cancer.[18]

Statistics[edit]

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

Legacy[edit]

Floyd Little is portrayed by the late actor Chadwick Boseman in the 2008 Universal Pictures film The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, a biographical film about Syracuse University Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis.[20]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "July 4: Happy birthday, Floyd Little". denverbroncos.com. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
  2. ^ Legwold, Jeff (September 24, 2010). "Floyd Little receiving Hall of Fame ring at Sunday's Broncos game". Denver Post. Retrieved February 6, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Ehalt, Bob (September 10, 2011). "Renaming of athletic center means a lot to Floyd Little". New Haven Register. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  4. ^ Fisher, Rich (September 26, 2018). "Bordentown Military Institute alumni to gather this month". Community News. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Bowe, Barry (2018). "High Noon with Floyd Little". Blame My Father. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Cimini, Rich (May 26, 2011). "Floyd Little chooses the Cuse all over again". ESPN.com. Retrieved May 30, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.60, Published by Time Inc.
  8. ^ "Sports Reference Floyd Little". Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 16, 2015.
  9. ^ Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.63, Published by Time Inc.
  10. ^ As of 2017; See box score
  11. ^ Little, Floyd; Mackie, Tom (2006). Floyd Little's tales from the Broncos sideline. Sports Pub. ISBN 978-1-59670-050-5. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  12. ^ a b Acee, Kevin (February 6, 2010). "Coryell denied entry to Hall of Fame". baltimoresun.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Q&A with Floyd Little on role at Syracuse, new doctorate". Denver Broncos. March 30, 2016. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Nett, Dennis (May 12, 2016). "Syracuse football legend Floyd Little will leave in June". syracuse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  15. ^ "Biography: Floyd Little, RB". October 1, 1984. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  16. ^ Poliquin, Bud (May 13, 2016). "Floyd Little on his honorary doctorate: 'It's incredible'". syracuse.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  17. ^ a b Swinton, Elizabeth. "Hall of Famer Floyd Little Diagnosed with Cancer". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  18. ^ a b Mink, Nate (May 29, 2020). "Floyd Little has cancer: 'It will be the toughest fight of his life'". syracuse. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  19. ^ Sports Illustrated, July 26, 2010, The Unexpected Hero by Gary Smith, p.57, Published by Time Inc.
  20. ^ "Remembering Chadwick Boseman as Floyd Little in 'The Express'". WRBL. September 3, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]