AFC West: Floyd Little

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- In the free agency season of 2004, then-Broncos head coach Mike Shanahan wanted leadership, experience and some playoff chops in the locker room.

So, Shanahan traded for Champ Bailey and, much like John Elway did last year with Peyton Manning, Shanahan took a chance on a guy coming off neck surgery -- a guy named John Lynch.

Lynch, who played 11 seasons in Tampa Bay and the final four years of his career with the Broncos, was the only player with Broncos ties to make the cut for the final 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2014.

The 15 modern-era finalists will be trimmed at the meeting of the Hall's Board of Selectors the day before the Super Bowl.

Former Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenberg, former Broncos safety Steve Atwater and former Broncos running back Terrell Davis made the cut to the 25 semifinalists, but none of the three were chosen as finalists.

The Broncos, with four Hall of Famers -- John Elway, Gary Zimmerman, Floyd Little and Shannon Sharpe -- continue to be under-represented in the Hall for the team's success level.

They have six Super Bowl appearances as an organization, yet just the four Hall of Famers. Davis, Atwater and Mecklenberg remain on the modern-era ballot.

NFL Any Era: Tim Tebow

January, 23, 2012
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Willie Lanier and Tim Tebow ESPN.com IllustrationWhat kind of collision would there be between Hall of Famer Willie Lanier and Tim Tebow?
ESPN is unveiling a cool project this week. The “Any Era” team. ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com combined on a project in which 20 Pro Football Hall of Famers and ESPN’s John Clayton, a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, put together a list of 20 current NFL players who they think could play in any era of the NFL.

The committee picked Denver quarterback Tim Tebow. He is No. 19 on the list.

It’s funny. It was debated hotly for the past few months whether or not the option-running Tebow could actually fit in this era. Yet, according to the Hall of Famers, Tebow could play in any era in NFL history partly because of his toughness and aggressive playing style.

Former Denver running back Floyd Little explained why he pushed for Tebow: “He might not be the greatest quarterback, but he could play at any position you want him to play at. He’s a guy I’d like to play with if I was still playing. He’s a winner, he’s mobile, strong, and gets the job done regardless, whether he’s blocking, throwing, running or just fooling you. He finds a way to win and people need to recognize that. A “W” is a “W” and it doesn’t matter how you get it, if you win ugly it’s still a “W.” Mechanics don’t play the game, people do.”

Added former Miami running back Larry Csonka: “I’m picking Tim Tebow, who’s a controversial choice. But that kid, a lot of people say he’s not a pure passing QB. But neither was Fran Tarkenton. You can take Tebow and compare him to a lot of quarterbacks over the years, great QBs who could roll out and be a threat. When it comes down to it, I think he can throw the long ball, maybe not consistently, but consistently enough to win. And in the final analysis, isn’t that what matters? He’s not going to statistically pass Dan Marino, but he may end up in a Super Bowl and Marino didn’t. He has a combination of things that come down to winning.”

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree with the men the yellow jackets? Fill up the comments section below with your thoughts on Tebow’s selection to the Any Era team.

Evening AFC West notes

June, 20, 2011
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New Denver coach John Fox is waiting to start working with his players.

AFC West links: Praising Tamba Hali

May, 27, 2011
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Denver Broncos

The Broncos have a new television partner. KUSA-9, the NBC affiliate in Denver, will televise the Broncos' preseason games as well as a weekly program with John Elway.

Denver Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little will be taking a new job as a special assistant at his alma mater, Syracuse.

Kansas City Chiefs

Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora had some words of praise for Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali.

Oakland Raiders

About 25 Oakland Raiders worked out at a suburban Atlanta swimming pool as part of a minicamp organized by defensive tackle Richard Seymour.

Raiders.com takes a look back at the 12 highest-scoring regular-season games in franchise history.

San Diego Chargers

Jacques Cesaire still wants to be a Charger, even though the team drafted his eventual replacement in Corey Liuget. "I look at it like if I do come back to the Chargers, if they want me back, I got a new brother," Cesaire said. "The last guy the Chargers drafted in the first round to replace me, I ended up being in his wedding."

Does the signing of Bob Sanders prior to the lockout make fellow safety Eric Weddle expendable?

Evening AFC West notes

May, 5, 2011
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In a conference call with some Kansas City Chiefs’ season-ticket holders, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt talked about the importance of parity in the NFL.
    • The Denver Post gives Broncos’ fans a chance to get to know second-round pick, UCLA safety Rahim Moore.
    • It looks like tight end Brad Cottam is going to attempt a comeback in Kansas City after missing last season with a neck injury. Why else would he be working out with his teammates?
    • San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding is working out with several other kicking specialists in California during the lockout.
    INDIANAPOLIS -- I have landed in Indianapolis for the NFL combine and I wanted to further address the Champ Bailey signing after discussing his contract extension with Denver and some other folks around the league.

    Bailey
    Bailey
    Bailey signed a four-year deal that ESPN’s John Clayton has reported will pay him a guaranteed $22 million and could pay him between $43 million and 47 million over the course of the four years. But it is clear the deal will be reevaluated after the first two years. Bailey -- who is still considered one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL -- will turn 33 in June.

    There is some surprise from around the league that Bailey didn’t wait until he could see what he could get on the open market. Many people say it is a direct indication of Bailey’s loyalty to Denver and his preference to stay where he is comfortable rather than seeing what a contending team would offer.

    Denver, which is going in a new direction for the second time in two years, is not close to being a legitimate contender. It was 4-12 last season and it is rebuilding. Still, Bailey decided to stay in Denver before free agency even started.

    A few years ago, when I was working on a story on whether or not Bailey would be a Pro Football Hall of Fame selection, he told me his key to Canton would be to win a Super Bowl ring. He thinks that is the best way of getting into the Hall of Fame. Bailey has to know Denver is not close to being a Super Bowl team, so staying in Denver must mean that much to him.

    There is a chance Bailey will end his career elsewhere. I could see him and the Broncos parting ways after the 2012 season under some circumstances. But the point is, Bailey will always be remembered as a Bronco. He is entering his eighth season in Denver after the blockbuster 2004 trade with the Washington Redskins that sent Bailey and a second-round pick (running back Tatum Bell) to Denver for running back Clinton Portis. Portis has had a nice career with the Redskins, but Bailey is a premier player.

    He has long been Denver’s best player and he is the face of the franchise. Bailey is truly one of the better players in team history. He will definitely go into the team’s Ring of Fame along with the likes of Hall of Famers John Elway, Floyd Little, Gary Zimmerman and Shannon Sharpe.

    By signing this deal, Bailey has cemented his legacy in Denver. He could have jumped ship in search of a quick-fix championship. Instead, he has committed to finishing what he started in Denver seven years ago.

    Shannon Sharpe's HOF wait is over

    February, 5, 2011
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    Shannon Sharpe is going to Canton two years too late.

    Kudos to the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters who ended Sharpe's surprising wait on his third year of eligibility. Sharpe will truly be a deserving member of the Hall of Fame.

    [+] EnlargeShannon Sharpe
    Brian Bahr/Getty ImagesShannon Sharpe ended his career with 815 receptions, 10,060 yards and 62 touchdowns.
    I remember being shocked two years ago when Sharpe didn’t get elected on his first try. I had the same feeling last year when Sharpe was blocked from Canton. This year, the voters got it right.

    Sharpe was a truly special player. He made the Denver Broncos unique. He made the team’s offense in the 1990s special. He changed the way the tight end was viewed in the NFL. Drafted out of tiny Savannah State in 1990 as a raw, lanky receiver, Sharpe transformed into an elite tight end and paved the way for the likes of Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates.

    Sharpe was a great receiver at 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds. He made linebackers and safeties look silly in coverage. He was a pumped-up receiver at tight end. It’s ironic that it was his ability as a receiver that kept Sharpe out of the Hall of Fame for two years. Sharpe was considered by many voters as a receiver and there has been a log jam (former Raiders’ receiver Tim Brown was not elected Saturday for the second straight season because of the glut at the position) of worthy receivers waiting to get in.

    But Sharpe was more than simply a receiver. Former Denver quarterback John Elway said Sharpe was an underrated blocker and he was a key part of the team’s famed zone-blocking scheme that helped pave the way to Super Bowl titles after the 1997 and ’98 seasons.

    What made Sharpe special was his ability to stretch the field as a big receiver. He had terrific hands and he was incredibly strong, so he was a nightmare for defenses to prepare against. Before Gonzalez broke his records, Sharpe widely considered to be the NFL’s best-ever tight end. Elway said this week that he still thinks Sharpe was the best tight end to play the game.

    Sharpe’s election continues a nice Hall of Fame run for Denver. Elway was the team’s first Hall of Fame enshrinee in 2004. Left tackle Gary Zimmerman was elected in 2008 and running back Floyd Little was elected last year.

    Now, Sharpe joins his former teammates Elway and Zimmerman where they all belong.

    Denver Broncos honor Kenny McKinley

    September, 24, 2010
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    The Denver Broncos held a private memorial for receiver Kenny McKinley. He died Monday of an apparent suicide. He was 23.

    Broncos coach Josh McDaniels told reporters in Denver that it was obviously a tough week for him and his team as they grieved while preparing for Sunday’s game against Indianapolis.

    “I think it’s been a challenge for all of us,” McDaniels said. "No bigger for me or our staff than it is for our team or the people that have been affected by the grieving process for Kenny. I commend our team on really doing a great job of trying to handle both things at the same time. Nobody has complained and they’ve all shown up ready to work and put in the time and the preparation to get ready to play on Sunday and then we’re all looking forward to supporting Kenny’s family today at the memorial and then going out there and really being excited to play in this game. I think it’ll be a great day for the Broncos, Floyd Little coming back and celebrating his (Hall of Fame) induction (and ring ceremony) is a special thing for our team and our fans I know it’ll be a great turnout on Sunday and we’re looking forward to it.”
    Six months ago, I played five questions with Floyd Little shortly after he was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Thursday, we played it again, days after the former Denver Broncos running back was inducted into the Canton, Ohio museum:

    Are you still on Cloud Nine from last weekend?

    Little: “It hasn’t gone away yet. It was a fantastic experience that I will never forget. When I woke up at home [in Seattle] after the weekend, I was exhausted, but I’m still thrilled.”

    Your speech touched many people. Where you nervous before giving it?

    Little: “I didn’t sleep the two nights before, preparing for my speech. I had worked on it for months, but preparing to give it in front of millions of people, there was some anxiety. But it worked out well and I hope I gave people something they will keep with them for awhile.”

    What was the highlight of the weekend for you?

    Little: “The message from [United States Vice President Joe Biden, who went to Syracuse with Little] was special. For Joe to take time out for my induction was really special and then my son Marc’s presentation speech was really emotional. Those were two special moments.”

    What was your thoughts when your bust was unveiled?

    Little: “We got to preview it about a month early. But there were some finishing touches that made it fantastic. When I saw it, I thought, ‘Wow, this is unbelievable.’ ‘’

    Did you receive any special phone calls after the ceremony?

    Little: "I received many. But Sunday morning I got a call from Bill Cosby. I’ve known Bill since 1965 when we were on the Johnny Carson show together. Bill said he was really touched by my speech. That was a nice call.”

    Floyd Little Hall of Fame speech

    August, 7, 2010
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    Thank you. Thank you. I am still standing. And I give all the glory to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. I am truly blessed to be standing here on this day to celebrate my journey as a person and as an athlete.

    I only wish my mom and dad were here to celebrate with me. I know my mom is looking down on me today and she's saying, Floyd, I'm proud of you, you done good. I also miss my two brothers. Fred, known as Ranger, and Charles, known as Gitty. Gitty was the real hero. He served two terms in Vietnam and was a war hero. I miss my two brothers.

    [+] EnlargeFloyd Little
    Andrew Weber/US Presswire"There's no words to describe the joy of experiencing this final sports chapter in my life," Little said.
    But God continues to bless me with three living sisters, Betty Jackson, Rosalie Johnson and Priscilla Goodson. These three ladies have been my biggest fans since I first put on a football helmet at Troop Junior High School. You have been my rock and strength on this journey. I could not have made it without your prayer and your support. Thank you for always being there for me.

    I also have three very special and talented kids. You've already met my son Marc. He was my presenter. Marc is not like a regular son. He's also my lawyer, my advisor, and my best friend. Life would be real different for me if Marc wasn't around. I love you, man.

    My daughter Christy who has blessed me with four grandkids, A.J., Skye, Blaze and Hayes. Christy is a proud mommy in training and has created a career teaching other mommies to be better mommies and I'm so proud of her for that. Christy, I am so proud of all the things you do because when I look at you I see all the things you do for our family. We are a close family because of you. I have been truly blessed to have you as my daughter. I love you, Christy.

    My daughter Kyra. I have watched you perform on Broadway and on stages across this country. I have not seen anyone with more talent than you. You truly are a triple threat with abilities that make me proud to stick my chest out and say, That is my daughter. I love you, Kyra.

    To Joyce Davis, the mother of my two daughters. Joyce, you did a great job as a mother. Thank you for your support during those early and challenging years as a Denver Bronco. Thank you for your support.

    To my beautiful wife DeBorah, my friend, my partner and everything a husband can want. You stand shoulder to shoulder with me. You never wavered in your steadfast resolve, always willing to go to battle on my behalf, always ready to help me finish the fight. Thank you for always being by my side. You are my Hall of Famer and I love you.

    No one travels this road alone. I can never have imagined the impact of a phone call I got from Tom Mackie's wife Emily. She called asking if I would consider meeting Tom for his 40th birthday because I was Tom's hero. Not only did Tom and I meet, but he became the co-author of my first book, Tales from the Bronco Sideline. My biggest advocate for my Pro Football Hall of Fame consideration. Now Tom is my hero. Thank you, Tom Mackie, for all you've done. I truly appreciate it.

    Lastly I want to thank my biggest friend and supporter, Jim Gray. Thank you, Jim Gray, for all you've done that contributed to my moment of being here today. I'm truly grateful, Jim, for all you've done.

    The list of those that's had an impact on my life and career is long, but I must give thanks to Ernie Davis, to Jim Brown, to John Mackie, to Hal Williams, to Ernie Barnes, to Billy Thompson, and my coaches Dan Casey, Al Verdel, Jay Lou, Ben Swartzwalder, Lou Saban, John Ralston. A special thanks to the Hall of Fame committee, Jeff Legwold, Jim Saccomano, and my Syracuse family, Dr. Nancy Carter and Dr. Daryl Gross and the Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden. To all my classmates, all my teammates from Hillhouse High School, Bordentown Military, Syracuse University, and the Denver Broncos. To Pat Bowlen and the entire Bronco organization, and to all the Bronco fans around the world. To all my friends and family who are here, and those who could not be here, thank you for your loyalty and your support over all these years. I am truly, truly grateful.

    There's no words to describe the joy of experiencing this final sports chapter in my life. This is obviously the highest honor any football player can garner. I stand here today celebrating my athletic life journey, and I understand significant. Everything else pales in comparison. Every player wakes up wishing to have this honor. I encourage you all to continue to dream for this moment. I have been favored by God and by those who have had a say in what happens to me.

    But the road was not always so easy and clear. I remember being a strong but angry young man in school. I used my strength in ways that became my weakness. After being kicked out of school, I had reached an impasse in my life. Everything was done. My hopes were shattered and done. And then I had a vision from my late father that came to me and said, Floyd, I've chosen you to take my place, to do what I could not do, and to finish what I could not finish.

    I came to myself. With the help of those who saw the good in me, I was re-enrolled back in school with determination. Not only did I become the president of my class, but I started my journey as a leader in everything that I did, and I never looked back.

    Because of those that encouraged me in those early years, I am here today. So I want to encourage you, every student, every athlete, every person who will hear my voice, don't listen to the naysayer. I had plenty of those. Don't listen to those that will judge you for your rough edges. Don't focus on your weakness so you won't become a victim. Find the goodness in you that says, Yes, I can be a good student. Yes, I can be a good son and daughter. Yes, I can be a positive role model. Yes, I can, because the good in you is better than the worst in most. The choice is yours. Be the best that you can be.

    I truly believe that none of us is anything until the least of us is something. The great writer James Baldwin said, Naked I came into this world and naked I shall leave. We are bound to leave everything we accomplished in this lifetime behind, passing it on. So leave a legacy that you and your family can be proud.

    I've given you the best that I've got. And I'm a better person for it. Thank you for being here with me and for me. I thank God for His favor today, and may God bless us all. Thank you so much.

    Evening AFC West notes

    August, 7, 2010
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    The agent for Kansas City Chiefs holdout safety Jarrad Page is publicly saying the team is being vindictive in its handling of Page. He is a restricted free agent, who did not sign his tender.

    This situation is very strange. Page is staying away and the Chiefs just don’t care. They have moved on. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Chiefs eventually trade Page. Or they could just let him sit. Again, there is not a lot of time being spent thinking about Page in Kansas City.

    New Oakland defensive tackle John Henderson says “I got it all, baby.” Oakland doesn’t need it all from Henderson. If he can give the Raiders 20-25 quality plays a game and help stop the run, his signing will be worthwhile.

    The Denver Broncos will honor running back Floyd Little as he enters the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night. His induction speech will be shown live during Denver’s scrimmage, which is open to the public, and the team will wear decals of Little’s No. 44.

    The Chiefs signed offensive lineman Dan Santucci and cut running back Tervaris Johnson. Santucci likely has an uphill battle to win a roster spot.

    HOF has an AFC West feel

    August, 7, 2010
    8/07/10
    3:00
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    Take some time on your Saturday to check out the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

    There is an AFC West feel to the ceremony, that begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN. Former Denver running back Floyd Little is finally being inducted.

    Little recently said he gave up on ever getting inducted. But he is in Canton, Ohio awaiting induction. Well deserved.

    Even the headliner of the 2010 class, Jerry Rice, has AFC West history. He was with Oakland for three-plus seasons and was very productive for a time for the Silver and Black. Rice retired in the preseason of 2005 as a member of the Denver Broncos, but he never played in a regular-season game for Denver.

    Congrats to Little and Rice and the rest of the 2010 HOF class.
    As a running back for the Denver Broncos, Floyd Little was an undersized player who never stopped fighting for the extra yard.

    He never quit.

    [+] EnlargeFloyd Little
    Rod Hanna/US PresswireDenver great Floyd Little had given up on being inducted into the Hall of Fame but will finally enter this month.
    In 2008, Little now admits, he quit. He gave up on his dream of becoming a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    “I gave up, I really did,” Little said.

    The only way Little, who starred for Denver from 1967 to 75, could get in was as a senior committee nominee. In 2008, the senior committee selected Bob Hayes as a nominee. It was his second go-around in the senior committee. Hayes was finally elected to the Hall of Fame in 2009.

    “I thought once they were giving guys a second chance before I got a first chance that it would never happen,” Little said.”I thought I was so far in the hole they wouldn’t find me.”

    However, in 2009, Little was nominated by the senior committee. As soon as he was nominated, he started to become hopeful. He kept focusing on the No. 44.

    It was the number he wore in Denver. It was the number fellow candidate Dick LeBeau wore. The election was taking place the day before the 44th Super Bowl. Little’s son, Marc, was turning 44 this year. The United States is on its 44th president, Barack Obama.

    “It was all falling into place,” Little said. “It was time for 44 to pay off.”

    It did. Little and his friend LeBeau were elected to the Hall of Fame in February. Marc Little will present his father at the Canton, Ohio, museum on Saturday.

    “It’s been surreal since I was elected,” Littlie said. “I’ve waited 35 years and now that it is here, I have so much to do it is really overwhelming.”

    Little has been concentrating on his speech for several months. He has been spending the past month editing it. Candidates have just six to eight minutes for their speech. Little, 68, said he has a lifetime of people to thank for his journey to Canton.

    “I need a minute for every year I’ve waited. I need 35 minutes,” Little joked. Little admitted that there are “four or five areas” of his speech during which he is worried he will get emotional. He has been trying to work on it. Still, after his long wait, he knows it might be impossible not to break down.

    Little is also hoping to have some special help on the stage. He is friends with Vice President Joe Biden. The two went to Syracuse together. Biden is trying to find the time to get to the ceremony. If so, Biden will help Marc Little unveil his father’s bust.

    “The only time Joe visited the Hall of Fame, he asked workers where my bust was,” Little said. “They told him it wasn’t there. He said he wouldn’t be back until it was … It’s been a long wait, but it’s almost here. I’m walking on cloud nine.”

    AFC West links: Are Chargers contenders?

    July, 22, 2010
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    Denver Broncos

    Former Broncos star Floyd Little says he still dreams of playing football.

    How the Broncos plan to use Tim Tebow remains a hot topic in Denver.

    Kyle Orton is on Mike Florio's list of quarterbacks who should be benched.

    Kansas City Chiefs

    The Chiefs are set for training camp at their new summer home at Missouri Western State University.

    The Lions remain interested in Chiefs safety Jarrad Page.

    KCChiefs.com has a video showcasing the Chiefs' new St. Joseph practice facility.

    Defensive end Tyson Jackson is one of the highest paid athletes in the country.

    Oakland Raiders

    Is Oakland a possible landing spot for free-agent receiver Terrell Owens?

    Cornerback Jeremy Ware has agreed to a contract with the Raiders.

    San Diego

    In light of the offseason changes and the current contract squabbles, are the Chargers still title contenders?

    Despite all of Philip Rivers' success, the quarterback knows that there's still one thing missing: a Super Bowl Championship.

    Chargers.com's position previews continue with defensive ends.
    Floyd Little reflected Thursday on what it would have been like to be teammates with Merlin Olsen.

    It could have happened.

    In 1962, Olsen was drafted by the Los Angeles Rams of the NFL and the Denver Broncos of the AFL. Olsen selected the security of the NFL and the Rams.

    “That would have been something,” said Little, a newly minted Pro Football Hall of Famer and a Bronco from 1967 to 1975. “We would have been a lot better with Merlin Olsen.”

    The Hall of Fame defensive lineman died Thursday. He was 69.

    Little said it was a tough day. The two played against each other often. Little said the two became friendly at Pro Bowls and other functions throughout their careers.

    “I’m very saddened to learn of Merlin’s passing. He was a great player, a great player. He was also a great person. He wasn’t an atypical football player. He was a great human being with a lot of skills. He was very special.”

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