Floyd Little comes up for a big vote by the selectors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, and if all is right and just, he should be selected.
There are no guarantees, but beyond the extraordinary hold that he still has on the hearts and minds of Denver Broncos fans, his body of work screams for induction.
The statistics have been gone over and poured over time after time, but there are a couple of other facts to consider in “out of the box” thinking regarding Floyd.
He was the heart and soul of the Broncos and the Mile High City at a time when pro football was growing here and the team was lousy, to be very, very kind.
He was the kind of person who was selected team captain by his teammates nine years out of nine.
I was a young radio reporter during much of Floyd’s career, in addition to spending three years with the Denver Bears at that time, and I was a Broncos season ticket holder.
So I saw virtually every game he played, and knew him well. I still prize his friendship.
You had to see him, and you had to know him, to understand the command he projected and the leadership which he gave to the team and to the community.
And he carried the team on his back, make no mistake about it.
His nickname was The Franchise, never a more accurate one in the history of pro football.
He is the only running back in the history of pro football to lead the league in rushing while playing for a last place team.
He was on an all-decade team – again, while playing for a last place team. Just think about it, and it staggers the imagination.
In Floyd Little’s career he only played behind three linemen who ever made any kind of all-star team, Larry Kaminski, Mike Current, and George Goeddeke, one time each, and I’ll bet many people reading this never heard of any of them.
Let’s take a look at several Hall of Famers and see what kind of blocking they had.
Jim Brown, regard as the greatest back in pro football history, wore number 44 at Syracuse before Floyd. Brown played behind eight different linemen who made a combined 20 Pro Bowls, and three of those blockers went into the Hall of Fame.
Jim Taylor was a cornerstone of that great Green Bay Packers team, and he ran the ball behind four players who made a combined 16 Pro Bowls, with two of them making the Hall of Fame as blockers.
Joe “The Jet” Perry – yes, I realize you never heard of him, but he was a stud, believe me – was a great back for the 49ers and Baltimore for 14 years. Perry played behind 11 men who made a combined 17 Pro Bowls, and three of them made the Hall of Fame.
O.J. Simpson ran to glory behind three players who made a combined five Pro Bowls, and two were elected to membership in Canton.
LeRoy Kelly had a great 10-years career with the Cleveland Browns, and his line included four players who made a combined 13 Pro Bowls, with Gene Hickerson making the Hall of Fame.
John Henry Johnson played for 13 years and in his time had 12 different linemen who made a combined 16 Pro Bowls, with two earning Hall of Fame induction.
For Floyd Little, no blockers who ever made the Pro Bowl, three who made the AFL all-star game once each, and no Hall of Famers, certainly.
For the other six, 42 combined offensive linemen who made a combined 87 Pro Bowls, with 13 who made the Hall of Fame.
Really, let’s be serious.
Floyd Little was one of the greatest players in the history of pro football.
Plus, he passed the “eye” test. If you saw him play, you knew what you were watching.
Let’s cross our fingers and hope these figures make sense to the selectors this Saturday.
The Franchise, one more time.