FanPost

firstfan's letter to the Sr. committee


Following is the letter I wrote to the Senior Committee members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  I publish this now just to keep Floyd's name and accomplishments on the radar of MHR members.



 

Dear Senior Selection Committee Member:

 

As I look at the history of Professional Football one period of time intrigues me. That is the era of the Common Draft, 1967-1969. The players selected by those old AFL teams were stuck. They had to either play for a team that some people considered inferior, or find another profession. One such player was Floyd Little.

 

Floyd Little was rather smallish 5’ 10” bow-legged running back at Syracuse University. He was carrying on the storied traditions of #44 at Syracuse. Little not only wore the jersey made famous by Jim Brown and Ernie Davis but he ended up breaking many of their records as well.

 

 

The Denver Broncos selected him as the sixth player ever selected in the Common Draft.  I think that Floyd was the first number one draft choice ever signed by the Broncos. He certainly had the biggest impact. While the people of Denver loved their Broncos and supported them through all the bad times (there were very few good times) they were beginning to wear thin. Rumors of the team moving had resurfaced. The presence of #44 on the roster changed all that. Any time Floyd Little touched the ball excitement filled the air. Following are the statistics compiled by Floyd during his nine year career with Denver.

  

 

 

                           Floyd Little Statistics

                          

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

6

19

218

11.5

1

1970

Denver Broncos

14

209

901

4.3

3

17

161

9.5

0

1971

Denver Broncos

14

284

1133

4

6

26

255

9.8

0

1972

Denver Broncos

14

216

859

4

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As impressive as these numbers are they fail to adequately describe Floyd Little as a football player. The following are some of my observations of Floyd Little as a complete player:

·        Power. Floyd was a powerful runner that could not be tackled with an arm tackle. If you did not get a helmet on him and wrap up immediately he would be long gone. Floyd had extremely strong legs and could drive the pile forward an additional two or three yards every play.

·        Speed. Floyd was fast, but more importantly he was quick. He had almost instant acceleration.

·        Elusive. He was not a quick-cut runner like Barry Sanders but he could make tacklers miss just enough so that he could break the tackle and get away. In his elusiveness I think he was more like Gale Sayers. Speaking of whom, Floyd played against Gale while he was at Syracuse. Gale was a consensus All-American and perhaps the most famous college player of that time. Floyd was a sophomore (freshmen were not allowed to play varsity in that era) that no one had ever heard of. Floyd scored five touchdowns and rushed for 159 yards on only 16 carries. They heard of Floyd Little that day.

·        Blocker. If you look at the statistics above you will see Floyd only averaged 182 rushing attempts per year. Tailbacks did not get 400 to 500 carries per year like they do today. They blocked! You can bet that if Fran Lynch got a nice gain Floyd had delivered a crushing block to help.

·        Durable. Floyd Little was the original battery bunny. He would take a pounding and just get up and keep playing. Floyd Little was tough.

·        Vision. Floyd had that unique gift of being able to see the entire field at once. His cut-backs were legendary.

·        Information Processing Speed. (IPS) The game had simply slowed down for Little. He could think and react with cat-like quickness. This combined with his vision of the field and his speed, elusiveness and power made Floyd Little really fun to watch. He only needed a little room to move. This made him particularly effective with draws and screens.

·        Character. The attitude of some of the most gifted players of today contrasts with that of Floyd Little. There was no “Give Me the Damn Ball” mentality from Floyd. He was and always will be a consummate team player. He was a solid special team contributor until the day he retired. None of the above statistics show punt or kick-off returns. They also don’t show how he blocked if the other return man made the catch. This was frequent as other teams kicked away from Little. He didn’t do a dance or choreographed end zone celebration. He handed the ball to the referee. You knew he had been in the end zone before. Floyd gave to the community. In 1974 he won the Whizzer White Humanitarian Award for community service.

 

This gives you an idea of what kind of a player and man Floyd Little was and is. Now inject this man into the struggling Denver Broncos in 1967. Fans loved to watch #44. The merger with the NFL was drawing closer and one requirement was that every team had to have a stadium that would hold 50,000 fans. The City of Denver bought Bears Stadium in 1968 and re-named it Mile High Stadium and expanded it to seat 50,000. Floyd Little filled that stadium. Floyd Little became “The Franchise”. If Yankee Stadium is “The House that Ruth Built” the Mile High Stadium was most certainly the “House that Little Built”.

 

Floyd Little led the NFL in rushing for the six year period from 1968 to 1973. He retired as the seventh leading rusher in NFL history. He rushed for 6,323 yards and 54 touchdowns. He won the AFC rushing title in 1970 with 901 yards. The following year he rushed for 1,133 and led the entire NFL. He was an American Football League All-Star in 1968, named first team “All League” in 1969 and made the Pro Bowl in 1970, 1971 and 1973. He was the smallest back to lead the league in rushing since before WWII. He led the league in combined yards in 1967 and 1968 and was the only player to return punts for touchdowns both years. From 1968 to 1973 he led the NFL in rushing yards and yards from scrimmage (rushing and receiving). In 1972 the Professional Football Writers of America voted Floyd the Running Back of the Year. A biography of Floyd sums it up best. “Incredibly, despite spending most of his career as the lone offensive threat on a loosing team, he was one of the most explosive offensive threats of his time”.

 

Floyd Little has never been named to the Football Hall of Fame. In the mid seventies everyone assumed Floyd would go into the Hall of Fame in a year or two. Decades have now passed and memories have grown dim. There are not as many of us who remember Floyd Little’s greatness as there used to be.

 

I urge you to consider Floyd Little for the Hall of Fame this year. In my opinion it is simply the right thing to do. Let’s do it while he is still alive to enjoy it.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

 

Don Fleming

Anchorage, Alaska

 

 

This is a Fan-Created Comment on MileHighReport.com. The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

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