As a native Coloradan who grew up in Grand Junction, I began following the Denver Broncos in the 1960s, when watching them play was a frequently painful experience. Their level of ineptitude is symbolized by their record during that decade: 39-97-4.
But beginning in 1967, running back Floyd Little, elected to the NFL Hall of Fame yesterday, gave the team, and fans like me, something we'd been lacking: hope.
Would the Broncos have left Denver without Little? Maybe. But there's no doubt the squad's slow rise from mediocrity to competitiveness can be traced directly to him -- and while the numbers he racked up during his nine-year career may seem fairly modest in comparison to fellow electee Emitt Smith, he's just as deserving of enshrinement.
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Little was instrumental in building the Broncos from next to nothing into a franchise that's a point of pride for people throughout the state. Including this Grand Junction kid.