Hugh McElhenny

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Hugh McElhenny
refer to caption
McElhenny in January 2014
No. 39
Position: Halfback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1928-12-31) December 31, 1928 (age 87)
Place of birth: Los Angeles, California
Height: 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight: 195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school: Los Angeles (CA)
Washington Prep
College: Washington
Compton (JC) (1 year)
NFL draft: 1952 / Round: 1 / Pick: 9
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 5,281
Average: 4.7
Rushing touchdowns: 38
Receptions: 264
Receiving yards: 3,247
Receiving touchdowns: 20
Player stats at

Hugh Edward McElhenny (born December 31, 1928) is a former American football player who was a halfback in the National Football League (NFL) from 1952 to 1964 for the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and Detroit Lions.[1][2]

McElhenny was noted for his explosive, elusive running style and was frequently called "The King" and "Hurryin' Hugh." He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970. McElhenny had Guillain-Barre syndrome, which almost killed him. He was temporarily paralyzed from the neck down and had to use a walker for a year.[1]

McElhenny is related to the McIlhenny family of Louisiana, the makers of Tabasco sauce.[3]

Early years[edit]

Born and raised in Los Angeles, California, McElhenny graduated from its George Washington High School,[1] and attended Compton Junior College where he was a starter on Compton's undefeated football team in 1948.[4] One of his Compton teammates was future 1952 Olympic gold medalist Sim Iness. McElhenny then starred at the University of Washington in Seattle,[5] where he was an All-America selection. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981.

One of McElhenny's celebrated plays at Husky Stadium was an uncommon 100-yard punt return against USC in 1951.[6][7] (Few punts are caught near one's own goal line, as the returner usually opts for the probable touchback; those that are caught are rarely returned for significant yardage.)

He was a member of Alpha Theta Delta of Chi Psi fraternity at the university.

McElhenny depicted in 1955 with the 49ers

Professional career[edit]

McElhenny was a first round pick of the San Francisco 49ers in the 1952 NFL draft, ninth overall, and made an immediate impression as a rookie. He recorded the season's longest run from scrimmage (89 yards), the longest punt return (94 yards), and the top rushing average (7.0 yards per carry). He won the Rookie of the Year award that season.[citation needed] In 1954, McElhenny joined with Joe Perry, Y.A. Tittle, and John Henry Johnson to form the 49ers' Million Dollar Backfield. McElhenny continued with the 49ers through 1960, earning five Pro Bowl appearances, before joining the Vikings in 1961 through the expansion draft. He played a second season with the Vikings in 1962 before being traded to the Giants in July 1963 for two draft choices and player to be named later.[8][9] McElhenny was released by New York in training camp in 1964,[10] was soon picked up by the Lions,[11] and retired after the season.[12]

McElhenny gained 11,375 all-purpose yards in his 13-year career. He was nicknamed "The King" while with the 49ers and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970.[13] After retiring as a player, McElhenny served as a color commentator on 49ers radio broadcasts from 1966 to 1972.

On January 20, 1985, McElhenny participated in the opening coin toss at Super Bowl XIX at Stanford Stadium, along with President Ronald Reagan, who participated by video feed from the White House after having been sworn in to his second term of office earlier that day.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Raley, Dan (September 1, 2004). "The untold story of Hugh McElhenny, the King of Montlake". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Roberts, Rich (January 20, 1985). "The King and the President: Hugh McElhenny will assist Reagan with the coin toss". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 
  3. ^ Belson, Ken (February 5, 2013). "Tabasco's ties to football burn deep". New York Times. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 
  4. ^ Grayson, Harry (December 1, 1948). "Compton College grid star one of best in nation". Bend Bulletin. Oregon. NEA. 
  5. ^ "Huskies to get JC's grid star". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. February 2, 1949. 
  6. ^ "Southern Cal defense stops Huskies, 20-13". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. United Press. October 7, 1951. p. 13. 
  7. ^ Eskanzi, David (October 4, 2011). "Wayback Machine: McElhenny's 100-yard return". Sports Press Northwest. Retrieved February 29, 2016. 
  8. ^ "McElhenny to Giants". Milwaukee Sentinel. UPI. July 18, 1963. p. 2, part 2. 
  9. ^ "McElhenny joins Giants after trade". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. Associated Press. July 18, 1963. p. 13D. 
  10. ^ Richman, Milton (August 28, 1964). "Heavy-hearted McElhenny says goodby to Giants". Wilmington Morning Star. North Carolina. p. 15. 
  11. ^ "Detroit Lions sign McElhenny". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. September 5, 1964. p. 10. 
  12. ^ "Hugh McElhenny honored at fete". Toledo Blade. Ohio. Associated Press. April 1, 1965. p. 42. 
  13. ^ Skinner, John R. (August 9, 1970). "Four inducted in fame hall". Tuscaloosa News. Associated Press. p. 13. 

External links[edit]