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Little: Lack of Broncos in Hall of Fame 'disrespectful'

DENVER -- Toward the end of his career, Floyd Little's name
was routinely prefaced with the words "future Hall of Famer.''

He hasn't shaken it. The former Denver running back is still
waiting for an induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The only thing is, Little doesn't care anymore. He's not
stumping for himself -- as much -- any longer. Little has another
cause -- his former team.

"Forget about Floyd Little, the [Hall of Fame] has already
forgotten about me,'' he said. "But how do you go to six Super
Bowls and only have one representative? That's disrespectful to
overlook our players. My concern today is Denver.''

The only Broncos player in the Hall is quarterback John Elway.

The Broncos had three players -- running back Terrell Davis,
linebacker Randy Gradishar and left tackle Gary Zimmerman -- make
the list of the final 25 nominees this past week. The list will be
whittled down to 15 in January and a final vote will be taken the
day before the Super Bowl to see who gets enshrined.

Little, who rushed for 6,323 yards and went to three Pro Bowls
in his nine-year career, thinks Davis should be a lock. Davis is
Denver's all-time leading rusher with 7,607 yards in a career cut
short by knee injuries.

"Terrell was a great player,'' Little said. "The reason why he
[might not] get in is because he played for the Broncos. If he
played for the New York Giants -- if I played for the New York
Giants -- and had these numbers, there would be no question. I think
it's horrible we don't have more in there.''

Denver isn't alone, of course. Some teams have no players --
who've played a majority of their careers for the franchise -- in
the Hall (including the Falcons, Ravens, Jaguars and Panthers) and
others have only one (Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Cincinnati and
Seattle). Chicago has 26.

Little, who runs a Ford dealership in Seattle, will have to wait
at least another season for his opportunity. In August, the Pro
Football Hall of Fame's Seniors Committee recommended Cleveland
Browns guard Gene Hickerson and Detroit Lions tight end Charlie
Sanders as finalists for possible election with the Class of 2007.

Not that Little pays much attention.

"I'm done with it,'' said Little, who played for Denver from
1967-75.

That's to be expected, though.

"What happens is you get to that point -- you can't care every
year or it would drive you nuts,'' said former Oakland Raiders
coach and current commentator John Madden, who was inducted last
summer. "Floyd was a great player and a Hall of Fame-type guy. I
think [he'll get in].''

Little used to be consumed by not being among the immortals of
the game. He wrote letters to the voters saying, "People ask me
why I'm not in the Hall of Fame. I've run out of answers. I'm
writing to you for an answer.''

The ones who responded basically said he belonged in, which
further irritated him.

But then he went to Syracuse University last season for a
retirement ceremony. The Orange were honoring those football
players who wore No. 44 -- players like Ernie Davis, Jim Brown and
Little -- by retiring the number. Sitting at a table with Brown, a
fan came up to Little and said, "You should be in the Hall of
Fame, too.''

Brown had a chat with his friend.

"Jim said, 'Look, anyone who's played against you and with you
and watched you play knows you're a Hall of Famer,''' Little
recalled. "For now, leave it at that.''

But Little can't. Not with only Elway in the Hall to represent
Denver.

Denver receiver Rod Smith is with Little on his crusade.

"I didn't realize it until John was inducted that he was the
first Broncos player,'' Smith said. "I was shocked. I was like,
'Wait a minute, hold up, with history of Broncos no one else is in?
That's a travesty. Guys like Little, Dennis Smith, Karl
Mecklenburg, they should be in. A lot of guys should be. That's
hard to swallow for me. Hopefully John getting in will open the
door.''

Little hopes so, too.

"The life expectancy of a running back who's played in the NFL
is 58,'' said Little, who just published a book on his time with
the Broncos. "I'm 64. If I go into the Hall, I want to be in while
I'm alive and can celebrate. I don't want to be elected
posthumously.''

He paused.

"All the articles used to say future Hall of Famer,'' Little
said. "What changed? The answer is I played in Denver. They
[voters] don't respect our players. Had I played anywhere else we
would not be having this conversation.''