Floyd Little was born on July 4, 1942 in New Haven, Connecticut. He played his college football at Syracuse University where he was a three time All American. In fact, he broke Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown’s rushing records at Syracuse. He was drafted by the Denver Broncos with the sixth pick of the first round of the 1967 draft.
Floyd Little “The Franchise”
Before there was John Elway in Denver, Floyd Little was “The Franchise” for the Denver Broncos. He brought credibility to a struggling team, despite being a lone weapon on offense for much of his career. If it had not been for Little, there probably would not be football in Denver today. “My signing helped rally the people in Denver around the team," he said. "From there we were able to go out through the city and get a charter to solicit and build a bigger and better stadium, which became Mile High Stadium.” Old time Broncos’ fans will always fondly remember the bow-legged, 5-10, 195-pound running back. (1)
Floyd Little Breaks 1000 Yards
During the 1971 NFL season, Floyd Little of the Denver Broncos made history, rushing for 1000 yards in a season. “It's a different game now,” Little said. “It's difficult to compare to my era. It used to be a big deal to gain 1,000 yards. When I first went over 1,000, I was only the 13th player in NFL history. We had a banquet and everything.” For the season he carried the ball 284 times for 1133 yards and six touchdowns. He also added 26 catches for another 255 yards.
Floyd Little Sets Single Game Broncos Rushing Mark
On October 19, 1969 Floyd Little had a career game against the Cincinnati Bengals. On that day he carried the ball 29 times for 166 yards. In the second quarter, he dashed 47 yards for his only touchdown. His Denver Broncos’ record day of 166 yards has since been broken. (2)
Floyd Little Jersey
Floyd Little’s Career
Running back Floyd Little played his last home game for the Broncos the same way he played his first one — with a touch of class. Little scored two touchdowns, leading Denver to a 25-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Little, rushed 19 times for 56 yards and caught five passes for 94 yards. "This was very emotional for me," said Little, the first No. 1 draft choice ever signed by the Broncos.
On the first play from scrimmage after the kick with the game tied at 10, Little hauled in the screen pass from Steve Ramsey and raced down the sideline for the score. "I knew it was going to go before we even lined up," said Little. "It's one of my favorite plays; we hadn't run it all day. They were over-committing and when I mentioned it in the huddle you should have seen the faces of our linemen. They all lit up." Denver Broncos coach John Ralston said, "We had a lot of guys look good today, but let's keep our discussions on what is important this day —Floyd. There were guys who looked good but this was Floyd's day and everybody knew it. Everybody gave that little extra to help Floyd enjoy it as much as he could." (4)
When Floyd Little retired from the NFL, he was the Denver Broncos’ all-time leading rusher and was the 7th leading runner in NFL history. He finished his career with 1641 carries for 6323 yards, caught 215 passes for another 2418 yards and scored 54 career touchdowns. When you add in his return yardage, Little amassed 12,157 career yards, averaging 104 yards per game played. His 12,157 career yards were the most in Denver Broncos History when he retired.
Should Floyd Little Be In the Hall of Fame?
When Floyd Little retired from the NFL, he was the 7th all-time leading rusher. The six guys ahead of him at that time are all in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Granted he had only one 1000-yard season, but that came when running for 1000 yards meant something and he was only the 13th player to ever achieve that. The sports writers who vote for players to receive enshrinement should ask the players he faced and not look at that fact that he played on a bad team.Little played on notoriously bad Broncos teams that went 47-73-6 during his career. "The losing was extremely difficult," Little said. "But I loved the game. I loved all the facets of playing running back: rushing, receiving, returning punts and kickoffs. I didn't have to do all those things, but I thought I could help the team." (1)
Jack Ham, a Hall of Fame linebacker from the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty, remembered Little as the most complete back of his era. “Floyd Little deserves to be in the Hall of Fame,” Ham said, “He was an amazing player. Not only was he a gifted runner and receiver, but incredibly smart. You couldn't cheat one way or the other with him, because he would beat you every time. He was the consummate professional. I looked forward to the Pro Bowl, so I could finally be on his team.” (1)
Hall of Fame linebacker Willie Lanier, who played for Kansas City, agreed with Ham's assessment: “Floyd was the kind of performer where you had to be at your best. When playing against most running backs, you had to determine how much error you could be off and still make the play. With Floyd, you had to be right the first time. You couldn't be off or he'd make you pay.” (1)
This is what the greatest running back in NFL history Jim Brown had to say. “I've said for years that Floyd deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. There's no question in my mind that he's one of the game's greatest players.” (3)
To me, Floyd Little’s career is even more impressive when you understand that defenses keyed on him every week and he still produced at a high level. I too think Floyd Little belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and hope the sports writers will finally come to their senses. At least the Denver Broncos have made it known how special Floyd Little was. They retired his jersey number, 44, and Little was added to the Denver Broncos Ring of Fame.
Floyd Little Hall of Fame Nomination
Finally, Floyd Little was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after being nominated by the senior's committee. Little has joined other football legends in Canton, Ohio. Congrats Floyd - It was a long time coming.
Floyd Little’s Tales From the Broncos Sidelines
If you are a Denver Broncos fan and you like great stories from Broncos’ past, this book is a must own. Floyd Little’s Tales from the Broncos Sidelines brings you Denver Broncos history when Floyd Little played with a lot of fun and humor. Floyd’s stories will keep you laughing and wanting to read more.
By A. Goodin, 20Yardline.com
Floyd Little Biography Sources:
(1) STILL WAITING; FLOYD LITTLE HAS CASE FOR HALL OF FAME. (2003, July 30) The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY)