DENVER (CBS4) — Since Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Denver Broncos running back Floyd Little died on New Year’s Day from cancer, the tributes have continued to pour in. It’s easy to highlight the man known as “The Franchise” for his feats on the football field, but Little accomplished just as much once he retired in 1975.
“He had all the intangibles of leadership, values, and so forth. And he applied them to everything that he did,” said Jim Saccomano, the Denver Broncos VP of Corporate Communications
Saccomano first met Little in the early 1970s and he was immediately blown away.
“He was a classy individual. He treated everybody just the way that you wanted to be treated. You know he was a team captain nine years of his Bronco career. As voted by the players. His teammates,” said Saccomano.
Little’s leadership helped him succeed as he rushed for 6,323 yards in his career, which was a Broncos rushing record later surpassed by Terrell Davis. While Little was running the ball on the field, he already had his next career move in motion off the field.
“He had business interests afterwards when he retired at the age of 34. He said ‘Hey, I’m not retired. I’m not playing football anymore, but I have to do things,” said Saccomano.
Little earned a master’s degree from the University of Denver Law school in 1975, the year he retired from his nine-year playing career with the Broncos.
“I went to school seven years out of the nine years I played. And when I finished, I was ready to go,” Little said.
He went from law to the business world, owning a Ford dealership in Seattle in 1990. The dealership would be in operation until 2009. He also tried his hand at owning an NFL franchise, but he was outbid. As an athlete he showed others how to become a Hall of Famer, but he also laid the blueprint on how football players could have a successful career once they take off the helmet for the last time.
“He’s a role model for about the way you succeed on the field and off the field because we’re all going to have a life after football. And he really demonstrated that life after football can be extremely successful,” said former Denver Broncos running back Reggie Rivers.
“If there is anything that I want to be said about Floyd Little when it’s all over is that he did it his way. Right or wrong, he did the best that he could do,” said Little.