Floyd Little, NFL Hall of Famer and longtime Federal Way businessman, died Jan. 1 at age 78.
Little was born on July 4, 1942, in Connecticut. He shared news of his battle with cancer in May last year, and he passed away at his home in Henderson, Nevada, on New Year’s Day.
The Hall of Fame running back played for the Denver Broncos from 1967-1975. In his career, Little was selected for five Pro Bowl games. He scored 54 career touchdowns and ran for 6,323 yards, with an average of 3.9 yards per carry. Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2010.
Prior to the Broncos, Little played for Syracuse University, where he became a three-time All American and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Little’s No. 44 jersey has been retired by both Syracuse and the Broncos, according to ESPN.
After retiring from football, Little earned a master’s degree in legal administration in 1975 from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. He also owned car dealerships, including a business in Federal Way.
Little, who moved to the area in 1990 with his wife, DeBorah, is the former owner of Federal Way’s Pacific Coast Ford before it went out of business in 2009. The City of Federal Way honored him by proclaiming April 6, 2010, as “Floyd Little Day” after he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the Mirror previously reported.
Little left Federal Way in 2011 when he was named a special assistant to the athletic director at Syracuse.
President-Elect Joe Biden attended Syracuse University with Little, and recently shared a message about his passing, saying he will miss “my friend,” and that Little was “a good man.”
Biden was in law school at the time and watched Little play as No. 44 in Archbold Stadium.
“In the years that followed, I got to know Floyd as the man behind the number,” President-elect Biden said in a statement. “He was full of character, decency and integrity. He was always gracious with his time with fans — parents and grandparents who wanted to introduce their children and grandchildren to a genuine role model.”
Biden said the two would check in on one another with calls after Syracuse games. He remembers the call when Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and “the joy in his voice,” and the fearlessness he heard when Little shared his cancer diagnosis.
“As with everything else he did in life, Floyd lived to the very end with grit and heart, and love for his family and faith in God,” Biden said.
Little’s surviving family includes his wife, DeBorah; his children Marc, Christy and Kyra; and several grandchildren.