By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
Floyd Little was one of the best there was on and off the football field. The NFL Hall of Famer recently passed away after a battle with cancer at the age of 78 in his home in Nevada.
Little is also a member of the College Football Hall of Fame. He was born in Waterbury, Connecticut but grew up in New Haven where he attended Hillhouse High.
It was 1960 when his legend began to grow as he scored four touchdowns in a game against New Britain high ending a 15-game win streak of the Hurricanes. He became known all around the state and New England.
He later attended Bordentown Military Institute in Pennsylvania to beef up his grades. It was there he started receiving national attention from schools like Notre Dame, Army and Syracuse. The Orange had produced Hall of Famers Jim Brown and Ernie Davis, the first Black to win the Heisman Trophy.
He was determined to go to Army after General Douglas MacArthur to him he would become the first black General if he attended Army.
He returned to Hew Haven from a visit to West Point one night. In the middle of a heavy storm he was visited by Syracuse head coach Ben Schwartzwalter, Heisman trophy winner Ernie Davis and others.
They got min to go to a nearby restaurant and eventually he got alone in the restroom with Davis and they had a serious talk. Davis asked him to follow him and Brown to Syracuse and wear the #44 as they had.
In just a few moments Davis had grabbed the securities of Little.
“I told his sure I will go to Syracuse,” Little told the Hartford Courant Years later. “I wasn’t totally committed I’d only known Ernie only a few hours but he touched me so much my family felt that if such a good guy could come from Syracuse it must be a good place.”
Davis was highlighted in “The Express” a 2008 film of his life. Little was also in the film and was played by Chadwick Boseman.
While at Syracuse he was a teammate of Larry Csonka was a Classmate of President-Elect Joe Biden. He was a three time All-American inducted in the College Hall of Fame in 1983.
He was drafted sixth overall by the Broncos in the 1967 NFL-AFL draft. He ended his career rushing for 6,232 career yards leading the league in 1971. He played in five Pro-Bowls He became a Pro football Hall of Famer in 2010.
He returned to New haven frequently and has the Floyd Little Athletic Center named after him and located on the campus of Hillhouse high.
He participated in events with The Walter Camp Foundation. He was a kind and giving man that gave you a warm feeling when you were around him.
He later became a special assistant at Syracuse as a fundraiser and mentoring students. He and his wife Deborah retired and moved to Las Vegas in 2016.
“Floyd Little embodied what it means to be Orange” said Syracuse Chancellor Kent Syverud in a statement released by the school. “He was an All-American student athlete. Floyd mentored countless student -athletes and dedicated his time, energy and resources in dedicating his time to others.”