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.
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.
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