HUGH MCELHENNY

HUGH MCELHENNY

Class of 1970
Halfback >>> 6-1, 195
(Washington, Compton Junior College)
1952-1960 San Francisco 49ers, 1961-1962 Minnesota Vikings, 1963 New York Giants, 1964 Detroit Lions

Hugh Edward McElhenny, Jr ... Washington All-American ... 49ers' No. 1 draft pick, 1952 ... Scored 40-yard TD on first pro play ... Had phenomenal first season, winning All-NFL, Rookie of Year honors ... Played in six Pro Bowls ... MVP of 1958 Pro Bowl ... Gained 11,375 combined net yards in 13 years ... Record includes 5,281 yards rushing, 264 pass receptions, 360 points ... Nicknamed "The King" ... Born December 31, 1928, in Los Angeles, California.

Hugh McElhenny was to pro football in the 1950s and early 1960s what Elvis Presley was to rock and roll. Known as “The King” (McElhenny that is), he had it all. He was an artist whose electrifying moves left opponents and observers spellbound.

McElhenny, a University of Washington All-America halfback, began his football career by rewriting the Pacific Coast Conference’s record book. A first-round draft choice of the San Francisco 49ers in 1952, Hugh made an immediate impression as a rookie leaving sportswriters groping for new superlatives to describe his exciting style of play. He recorded the season’s longest run from scrimmage (89 yards), the longest punt return (94 yards), and the top rushing average (7.0 yards per carry). Not surprisingly, he was a unanimous choice for the league’s Rookie of the Year honors.

Considered the greatest “thrill runner” of his day, McElhenny ran with a tremendously long stride and high knee action. His breakaway speed and unique ability to change direction at will left defenders dazed and confused.

In 1961, after nine seasons and five Pro Bowl appearances, McElhenny joined the expansion Minnesota Vikings. It was, all things considered, his finest season. With the Vikings he accounted for 1,069 combined yards and made his sixth trip to the Pro Bowl.

Two years later, as a member of the New York Giants, McElhenny realized a dream that had escaped him – playing on a championship team. Although Hugh’s knees were already shot, Giants coach Allie Sherman knew he would give the team “his very best,” something he did automatically his entire 13-year career.

When he retired after the 1964 season, McElhenny was one of only three players to have gained more than 11,000 all-purpose yards. Altogether, on rushing, receiving, kickoff returns, punt returns, and fumble returns, he totaled 11,375 yards — or more than six miles.

Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1952 San Francisco
12
98
684
7.0
6
26
367
14.1
3
1953 San Francisco
12
112
503
4.5
3
30
474
15.8
2
1954 San Francisco
6
64
515
8.0
6
8
162
20.3
0
1955 San Francisco
12
90
327
3.6
4
11
203
18.5
2
1956 San Francisco
12
185
916
5.0
8
16
193
12.1
0
1957 San Francisco
12
102
478
4.7
1
37
458
12.4
2
1958 San Francisco
12
113
451
4.0
6
31
366
11.8
2
1959 San Francisco
10
18
67
3.7
1
22
329
15.0
3
1960 San Francisco
9
95
347
3.7
0
14
114
8.1
1
1961 Minnesota
13
120
570
4.8
3
37
283
7.6
3
1962 Minnesota
11
50
200
4.0
0
16
191
11.9
0
1963 New York (N.F.L.)
14
55
175
3.2
0
11
91
8.3
2
1964 Detroit
8
22
48
2.2
0
5
16
3.2
0
Career Total
143
1124
5281
4.7
38
264
3247
12.3
20
 
Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1952 San Francisco
12
20
284
14.2
1
18
396
22.0
0
1953 San Francisco
12
15
104
6.9
0
15
368
24.5
0
1954 San Francisco
6
8
78
9.8
0
8
210
26.3
0
1955 San Francisco
12
7
10
1.4
0
9
189
21.0
0
1956 San Francisco
12
15
38
2.5
0
13
300
23.1
0
1957 San Francisco
12
10
41
4.1
0
0
0
0.0
0
1958 San Francisco
12
24
93
3.9
0
2
31
15.5
0
1959 San Francisco
10
0
0
0.0
0
0
0
0.0
0
1960 San Francisco
9
0
0
0.0
0
0
0
0.0
0
1961 Minnesota
13
8
155
19.4
1
2
59
29.5
0
1962 Minnesota
11
5
43
8.6
0
7
160
22.9
0
1963 New York (N.F.L.)
14
13
74
5.7
0
6
136
22.7
0
1964 Detroit
8
1
0
0.0
0
3
72
24.0
0
Career Total
143
126
920
7.3
2
83
1921
23.1
0
Additional Career Statistics: Passing: 7-2-13, 1 TD, 1 Int

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