Little's long run has a happy end

Floyd Little was the first star player for the Denver Broncos. AP Photo/File

Before John Elway became the unofficial governor of Colorado, there was Floyd Little.

He was the face of the Denver Broncos long before Elway developed his rocket arm. Now Little joins his Denver successor in Canton, Ohio.

In what was likely his final chance to be immortalized, the former Broncos running back was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a senior committee nominee after a 30-year wait. Had he not been elected Saturday, there was no guarantee Little would ever be considered for enshrinement again. He joins Elway and tackle Gary Zimmerman as Denver players in the Hall of Fame.

While the team’s excitement was tempered by the failed candidacy of tight end Shannon Sharpe, the franchise was still ecstatic about Little’s induction.

Getting Little into the Hall of Fame was a mission for the franchise. Little thanked several members of the organization Saturday for their continual pursuit to get him enshrined.

“Floyd has made immeasurable contributions to this franchise and the NFL, and he deservedly will take his place among the greatest to play this game in the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Denver owner Pat Bowlen said in a statement released by the team.

The bow-legged Little carried the franchise on his back. By far the best player on some bad teams, Little, who played from 1967-75, never made it to the playoffs.

He ranked seventh in the NFL in all-time rushing with 6,323 yards when he retired and trailed only O.J. Simpson in rushing yards in that period. Little was a star for a franchise that didn’t truly find its way until several years after he retired and was the first face of the Broncos.

Saturday, he was finally rewarded for it.