Legendary Syracuse Orange RB and one of the famed No. 44's, Floyd Little has a new book out called Promises to Keep: My Inspired Run From Syracuse to Denver to the Hall. In it, Little takes about the obstacles he overcame as a child, his All-American career at Syracuse, his Hall of Fame career with the Denver Broncos and the lessons he's learned throughout all of it.
Little is making some upcoming appearances that Syracuse fans will want to be at. If you're in New Jersey for the USC game this weekend, Little will be signing copies of his books at Bookends in Ridgewood (211 East Ridgewood Ave.) on Friday, September 7 between 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
If you're going to be at the Minnesota game in a couple weeks, you'll have another chance to meet Floyd. SU Alumni Club of Minnesota
Now, let's check out an excerpt from Floyd's new book.
Cameron Lynch had six tackles and shared a sack in Syracuse's game against Northwestern last weekend. However, Lynch almost wasn't on the field because he almost quit the team as a freshman. He might just have if not for Floyd Little...
I had the opportunity to make a difference with the first player who ever walked into my office. Cameron Lynch, a freshman linebacker, came by and introduced himself. "Hello, I just wanted to meet you. I'm a freshman linebacker, but I don't think I can make the team." I sat back in my chair and asked him why. "Well, I'm too small, not big enough." So I asked him his height and weight. "I'm only 5'11", 225 pounds."
I shook my head. I played with a linebacker his size who should be considered for the Hall of Fame. "Let me ask you something, have you ever heard of Tom Jackson? The guy who's been sitting next to Chris Berman the past 25 years doing NFL Countdown on ESPN?" Of course, he had heard of him. "Well, Tommy was a teammate of mine with the Broncos. He was all of 5'11", 218 pounds when we drafted him out of Louisville. You know what Tommy did? He became a Pro Bowl linebacker. He played 14 seasons and started on two Super Bowl teams. Are you bigger than him?"
He said "Yes."
"Look, they can measure your height, speed and strength. But your heart, they can't measure. You can accomplish anything if you have enough fight in your heart." I told him to leave and think about whether he really wanted to make the commitment to play at Syracuse. "If you really want to play, come back tomorrow, and I'll tell you how to do it."
Here's a kid who was looking for some empathy and understanding. But he wasn't going to get it from me. That may be what he wanted, but that's not what he needed.
The next day he was standing, not sitting, when I got to my office. As we sat and talked, he told me all the things standing in his way. I knew he had too many things swimming around in his head. So I simplified things.
"Think of life this way," I began. "You only get 100 plays in life. You can't afford to take a play off because that could be your touchdown play, your interception play, or your game-changing play. If you think that way and I believe that way, you will never go through life saying these two things: 'I wish I had,' or 'I should have.' If you find yourself saying either , it means you didn't give it your all. You left something in the tank."
So I made a deal with Cameron. I would come watch him at practice to make sure he was giving it his all. I told him, "If I give you a thumbs up after a play, then you gave it your all. If I lean my thumb sideways, it means you could have done more."
This seemed to excite and motivate the young man. I could see him getting better at every practice. If he made a great play, he would look over at me with a grin while I gave him the thumbs up. When he made a bad play, he tried not to look over. But he knew my thumb wasn't pointing up. I'm proud to say Cameron played with a high intensity all season. Not only did he make the team, by the end of the season he had become a starting linebacker!
When I talk to young athletes I stress the importance of playing hard. You may not always play your best. But if you play hard you can often make up for mistakes or lack of talent.
"The excerpt from Promises to Keep: My Inspired Run From Syracuse to Denver to the Hall is printed with the permission of Triumph Books / www.triumphbooks.com/FloydLittle."