Floyd Little honored himself, his family, the Broncos and Syracuse when he went into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this weekend with the classiest entry of all. His speech was poignant and about way more than the game of football (watch it here). Maybe that's the reason he had to wait so long...so he could have the kind of knowledge and wisdom that only comes with age (or so it seems).
For the past two weeks, Little told people he wasn't going to deliver a speech, he was going to tell a story. He told of an angry kid who overcame teachers who said he couldn't learn, coaches who said he couldn't play. His story — delivered between the speeches of Rice and Smith — gave hope to kids who may otherwise believe life isn't going their way.
Of course, Little also made some great comments about the number that he carried as highly as the two superstars who wore it before him and how it impacted his selection.
"Maybe it was in God's plan for me to be in at this moment," Little said. "I come in on the 44th Super Bowl, I come in with the 44th president, I come in with my son being 44, (and there were) 44 voters (on the selection committee)."
As A Syracuse fan, you can't help but smile. To anyone else, it's coincidence. For us...we know better.
And yet, as a Syracuse fan, you can't help but be disappointed. Disappointed that the #44 remains retired. That no future Syracuse football player will carry the torch that Jim, Ernie and Floyd created. That there will never be another Hall of Fame speech given by a player who wore #44 for the Syracuse football team.
I don't know where you stand on the whole thing. You certainly know where I stand. While I understand the way that retiring the number "honors" the great trio of African-American RBs that defined it, I don't think that's the honor it really deserves. The right honor would be to bestow that number to the next great RB in the making. Maybe he won't live up to the hype. Odds are against him. But if Jim Brown, Ernie Davis and Floyd Little created the legend of #44 at Syracuse, they didn't do it so that it would remain on the sidelines.