Sports

Federal Way's Floyd Little elected to football Hall of Fame

It was a dream come true for former Denver Broncos running back and current Federal Way resident Floyd Little.

Saturday Little was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010 after a 30-year wait. The news was announced from Miami, the site of the Super Bowl.

"It's been a long journey," Little told the Associated Press Saturday from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. "This is truly my dream. You can't explain the emotions of the way you feel at this moment."

The owner of Federal Way's Pacific Coast Ford, which went out of business in July, will be officially enshrined into the Hall of Fame on Aug. 7, in a ceremony at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.

Little was joined in the Class of 2010 by all-time greats Jerry Rice and Emmitt Smith, along with former Seahawk defensive lineman John Randle, offensive lineman Russ Grimm, linebacker Rickey Jackson and defensive back and coach Dick LeBeau. Little and LeBeau were elected as senior committee nominees.

The senior committee, a group of nine sportswriters, choose two NFL senior nominees from a list of players from the pre-1980 era every year. Little has been eligible for induction since 1981, five years after he retired, but was never nominated — moving him into the senior category.

Many would argue that Little's nine-year career (1967-75) in the National Football League with the Denver Broncos warranted enshrinement in Canton a long time ago.

His statistics don't lie. When Little hung up his cleats, he was the sixth leading rusher in NFL history with 6,323 yards. Little trailed only Jim Brown, O.J. Simpson, Jim Taylor, Joe Perry, Leroy Kelly and John Henry Johnson. All six are already in the Hall of Fame.

"This is a great day for Floyd Little individually as well as for the Denver Broncos' entire organization and our fans," Broncos President and CEO Pat Bowlen said in a press release. "Floyd has made immeasurable contributions to this franchise and the NFL, and he deservedly will take his place among the greatest to play this game in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

During his career, Little totaled the most all-purpose yards in pro football and ranked second to only Simpson in rushing yards over that period. Little is one of only three players in NFL history with 6,000 career rushing yards and 3,000 career special-teams return yards. Little led the Broncos in rushing for a club-record seven consecutive seasons, including in 1971 when he captured the NFL's rushing title with 1,133 yards.

In 117 career games, Little posted 1,643 rushes for 6,323 yards with 43 touchdowns, 215 receptions for 2,418 yards with nine touchdowns, 104 kickoff returns for 2,523 yards, and 81 punt returns for 893 yards with two touchdowns.

Little was also one of the best college running backs of his era while playing at Syracuse. He was a three-time All-American for the Orangemen, following in the footsteps of Jim Brown and the late Ernie Davis as superstar tailbacks at Syracuse.

Little shattered most of the records set by his two predecessors, rushing for 2,704 yards, returning punts for 845, kickoffs for 797, and passed for 19 — for a grand total of 4,947 yards. He also scored in 22 of 30 regular-season games, including five times in one game, while wearing the same storied number 44 as Brown and Davis.

Little's number 44 currently hangs high atop Mile High Stadium in Denver as one of the four original Ring of Fame inductees in 1984. "The Franchise," as he was called, was the first No. 1 draft pick ever signed by the Broncos.

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