For some, the start of 2021 is a chance to move past the anguish of 2020. This unfortunately isn't the case for the family of Floyd Little, the football legend who ended his NFL career as one of the best to ever play the sport. Little passed away on the evening of Friday, Jan. 1 at the age of 78, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Saturday morning. Hall of Fame CEO David Baker issued the following statement on Little's passing:
"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."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also offered his condolences.
"Floyd Little was not only a Hall of Fame running back, he was a Hall of Fame person," Goodell said in a press release. "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."
Little entered the NFL as the sixth-overall pick of the Denver Broncos after a storied collegiate career at the University of Syracuse, where his No. 44 jersey has since been retired, along with having also seen that same number retired in Denver.
A five-time Pro Bowler and three-time All-Pro running back in his heyday, Little was a force to be reckoned with whenever he touched the ball. To that point, his NFL resume also includes honors as NFL rushing yards leader in 1971 and NFL touchdowns leader in 1973, continuing his dominance at the pro level after being named First-Team All-American in three consecutive seasons at Syracuse. He's since been immortalized in the College Football Hall of Fame as well, and ultimately helped set the stage for every elite halfback that came after him.
He will be remembered as that and much more.