American Football

Broncos greatest players of all-time: #9, running back Floyd Little

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One of the most important players in franchise history, Little comes in at No. 9 on the list of greatest Broncos.

Few players in the history of the Denver Broncos had the impact of Floyd Little.

You could argue there is only one that equals the mark, “The Franchise,” left.

To put it simply: Without Little, the Broncos may not be in Denver.

That’s why he comes in at No. 9 on the list of the Broncos’ greatest players of all time. It’s also way too low. Little should be No. 2 on this list.

From 1967 until Little retired in 1975, Little was the Broncos.

Hearing from those who watched Little play makes you realize how special he was and what he meant to this franchise.

When Little was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, I chatted with Broncos radio play-by-play man Dave Logan for a column that ran in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. I would link to it, but it’s now behind a paywall.

What Logan told me then rings true to this day.

“Having grown up here in Denver, my first memories of going to a Broncos game back in the late 1960s, early ‘70s was watching Floyd. There weren’t a lot of great times. They didn’t win a lot of games.

“But I remember going to the stadium and thinking just as a kid that Floyd was always a guy that gave great effort, was a great player and played hard all the time. He was the face of the franchise at that point.”

I touched on this a little earlier, but if not for Little, the Broncos are not the Broncos. In fact, they may not even be in Denver. Logan told me that prior to drafting Little out of Syracuse in 1967, there was talk of the franchise leaving the city.

According to the Broncos’ website, “In 1967, the Denver Broncos faced a crisis when voters declined a bond issue to construct a new stadium. But local fans came to the rescue, forming a nonprofit group called the ‘DOERS’ and raising $1.8 million to purchase Bears Stadium from its private owners.

“The following year, the addition of an upper deck increased capacity to 50,000, and the facility was re-named Denver Mile High Stadium. In 1971, voters approved a $25 million bond issue to expand the stadium to more than 75,000 seats.”

Other players may have helped save the franchise, but without Little, it just doesn’t happen.

For his career in Denver, Little finished with 6,323 yards rushing, 2,418 yards receiving, and 52 career touchdowns. He also added two return TDs and one passing TD. Little still ranks No. 2 on Denver’s all-time rushing list behind Terrell Davis.

Little was selected to five Pro Bowls and voted first-team All-Pro once in 1969. He was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010.

John Elway is and always will be the face of the Broncos.

But if not for Little, there is no Elway in Denver.

As Logan told me in 2010:

“You would be hard pressed for even the most ardent of pro football fan that didn’t live in Denver to remember anybody or much about the team at that particular point other than, ‘Oh yeah, that was the team that Floyd Little played for.’ Floyd and John have been the two single most important players that this franchise has ever known.”

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