Mel Farr

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Mel Farr
Mel Farr.jpg
Farr from 1965 UCLA yearbook
No. 22
Position: Running back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1944-11-03)November 3, 1944
Place of birth: Beaumont, Texas
Date of death: August 3, 2015(2015-08-03) (aged 70)
Place of death: Detroit, Michigan
Career information
High school: Beaumont (TX) Hebert
College: UCLA
NFL draft: 1967 / Round: 1 / Pick: 7
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 3,072
Average: 4.2
Touchdowns: 26
Stats at

Melvin Farr (November 3, 1944 – August 3, 2015) was an American football player who played for the Detroit Lions of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for UCLA.

Early life[edit]

Farr graduated from Hebert High School in Beaumont, Texas, in 1963, where he lettered in football, basketball, baseball, and track. He was named All-State in football and track and All-District in basketball.

College career[edit]

Farr played football for the UCLA Bruins, where he was a halfback. He started on the 1965 and 1966 varsity teams, part of UCLA's famous Sports Illustrated-dubbed "dream backfield" along with eventual Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Gary Beban. Had a 50-yard touchdown run in UCLA's upset of USC in 1965, securing a berth in the 1966 Rose Bowl, a stunning UCLA upset over #1 ranked Michigan State. UCLA's final rankings were #4 and #5 in the AP his two starting years. He finished seventh in the balloting for the 1966 Heisman Trophy (Beban #4 that year). He was a consensus All-American at the school in 1966.[1] He was named to the all-AAWU conference team and named All-Coast in 1965 and 1966. 1988 Inductee into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame.[2]

  • 1964: 27 carries for 86 yards. 3 catches for 21 yards.[3]
  • 1965: 122 carries for 821 yards and 7 TD. 8 catches for 180 yards and 1 TD.
  • 1966: 138 carries for 809 yards and 10 TD. 12 catches for 225 yards and 1 TD.

Professional career[edit]

Detroit Lions[edit]

He was the number seven overall selection in the first-round in the 1967 NFL draft by Detroit. In 1967, Farr joined the Detroit Lions, and won the year's NFL Rookie of the Year award. He spent his entire career from 1967 through 1973 with the Lions, and earned trips to the Pro Bowl in 1967 and 1970.

Farr and his teammate Lem Barney also sang background vocals on the 1971 Marvin Gaye song "What's Going On".[4]

Mel Farr Ford[edit]

After his retirement from pro football, Farr entered the business world, and in 1975 opened the Mel Farr Ford automobile dealership in Oak Park, Michigan.[citation needed] By 1998, the Mel Farr Auto Group grossed $596.6 million, making it the top black business in the United States and the thirty-third largest auto dealership in the US.[5]

There were legal problems surrounding Farr's On-Time Device,[6] which prevented drivers of leased vehicles from starting the car if they missed payments. In June 2000, Farr settled a suit with customers who complained that the device turned off their cars when they were in motion. Many claimed they had not been late with their payments. Each of the 1,500 customers received $200 worth of coupons for their troubles.[7]

In January 2002, Farr was in discussions to sell his franchises in Oak Park and Waterford Township, Michigan, to Ford Motor Company, who had outstanding liens with Farr.[7] The franchises were sold in April 2002 and subsequently closed.

For many years Farr appeared in his dealerships' commercials in a stylish suit and superhero red cape flying through the sky as he was dubbed "Mel Farr, your Superstar dealer". The commercials have earned Farr pop star status in the Detroit area.[according to whom?]


Farr was part of a family full of professional football players. He was the younger brother of former AFL and NFL player Miller Farr as well as the father of former NFL players Mel Farr, Jr. and Mike Farr, who both attended UCLA and Daughter Monet Farr by Mae Rutha (Forbes) Farr whom he was married with from 1966 to late 2002 with whom he remained friends with through his departure on earth. He married Linda Johnson Rice, the adopted daughter of the late publisher, John H. Johnson of Ebony Magazine in 2004. The couple divorced in 2009. Farr married his longtime girlfriend, Jasmine Rozier, in 2013. Proceeding his death his wife Jasmine gave birth to their baby girl Melia Farr, November 3, 2015, sharing the same birthday as Mel. [8]


Farr died suddenly at his home in Detroit[9] on August 3, 2015, at the age of 70.[10]


  1. ^ 1975 UCLA Media Guide, UCLA Athletic News Bureau, 1975
  2. ^ UCLA Football media guide (PDF copy available at
  3. ^
  4. ^ Crowe, Jerry (August 29, 2010). "Marvin Gaye once tried to make it in NFL, with help from Lem Barney, Mel Farr". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 
  5. ^ Derek T. Dingle, Black Enterprise Titans of the B.E. 100s: Black CEOs Who Redefined and Conquered American Business (John Wiley & Sons 1999)
  6. ^ Meredith, Robyn - Auto Dealer Has an Offer for Drivers With Bad Credit, but There's a Catch. New York Times, August 30, 1999
  7. ^ a b Hughes, Alan and Lloyd Gite - Driving in a new direction? Mel Farr Automotive to sell all its Ford dealerships. Black Enterprise, April 2002
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Birkett, Dave (August 4, 2015). "Former Lions RB Mel Farr dead at 70". Detroit Free Press. Retrieved August 4, 2015. 

External links[edit]