Pro Football Hall of Fame running back passed away this morning in Chandler, Arizona. He was 84.
Perry was well known as an extremely quick runner who earned the nickname "The Jet" during his 16-year career with the and the Baltimore Colts. He was the first NFL player ever to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, a feat he accomplished in 1953 and 1954. He also, at one point, was the NFL's all-time leading rusher.
"All of us here at the Pro Football Hall of Fame are extremely saddened to learn of the passing of the great ," commented Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director Steve Perry. "Joe was not only a key figure in the history of professional football, but he was a great friend to us here at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was a frequent visitor to Canton for our annual Enshrinement ceremony as well as many other Pro Football Hall of Fame events. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his wife Donna and the entire Perry family."
Perry began his professional career following World War II military service in the Navy as an undrafted free-agent in 1948 with the 49ers of the All-America Football Conference. He quickly made a name for himself during his rookie year when he gained 562 yards rushing and 10 TDs with an eye-popping 7.3 yards per carry average. He continued his dominant running the following year with 783 yards, 8 TDs and a 6.8 yards per carry average.
In 1950 the 49ers and Perry, who stood 6-0 and 200 pounds, joined the NFL. Unlike the typical fullback of the day, Perry's forte was not as an inside power runner. Instead, he combined his power with his quickness and deceptive elusiveness to slash through opposing defenses.
It was an effective style, as he gained 500 or more yards in 10 of the next 14 seasons. A veteran of three Pro Bowls, Perry was All-AAFC in 1949 and All-NFL in 1953 and 1954. A member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1950s, Perry amassed a total of 9,723 rushing yards and averaged an amazing 4.9 yards per carry during his career.
He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969.
A memorial service will be held at a time and location to be announced later.
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