Broncos legend and football Hall of Famer Floyd Little dies at 78

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Floyd Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a lengthy wait. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Floyd Little was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after a lengthy wait. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Denver Broncos and Syracuse University lost a legend. Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little died Saturday at 78.

Little spent his entire nine-year NFL career with the Broncos. He was selected by the team with the No. 6 overall pick in the first draft following the AFL-NFL merger in 1967. In nine seasons with the Broncos, Little rushed for 6,323 yards and scored 43 rushing touchdowns. He made five Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team once. When Little retired, he was the seventh leading rusher of all time.

Little was inducted in the Broncos’ ring of fame in 1984. He made it into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.

In a statement, Hall of Fame president David Baker called Little “a true hero of the game.”

“Floyd Little was a true hero of the game. He was a man of great integrity, passion and courage. His contributions off the field were even greater than his amazing accomplishments he did on it. Floyd’s smile, heart and character epitomized what it meant to have a Hall of Fame life.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Floyd’s wife, DeBorah, and their entire family. We will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration for future generations. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Floyd’s memory.”

The Hall of Fame put out a tribute to Little on YouTube.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also released a statement, calling Little a “Hall of Fame person.”

“Floyd Little was not only a Hall of Fame running back, he was a Hall of Fame person. Faith, family and football were the pillars of his life.

“I was so fortunate to know Floyd and witnessed first-hand the impact he had on others. Whenever he represented the Broncos at the annual NFL Draft, others immediately sought to greet him and his genuine excitement of being with his fellow Legends and his pride and passion for the Broncos was unmistakable.

“Football, the Broncos and the NFL were a large part of his life, but nothing could surpass his love and affection for his wife DeBorah and his children, Marc, Christy and Kyra. To them and the entire Little family we extend our deepest sympathy.

“He worked to inspire many to be the best they could be, saying at his 2010 induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: ‘Leave a legacy that you and your family can be proud.’​

“You left us all proud to have known you. Thank you, Floyd.”

Floyd Little was a star at Syracuse

Before joining the NFL, Little was a star at Syracuse University. He was a three-time All-American, and had his number retired by the university in 2005. Syracuse chancellor Kent Syverud said Little “embodied what it meant to be Orange.”

That time with Syracuse left an impression on one of the school’s law students at the time, Joe Biden. The president-elect released a statement recalling his time watching Little play in college and the friendship that developed in the years that followed.

Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim also paid tribute to Little, calling Little “a great friend.”

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