, the former great running back of the , was honored at his alma mater James Hillhouse High School in New Haven, Conn. as part of the “Hometown Hall of Famer™” program. The program presented by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company is designed to honor the hometown legacies of the sport’s greatest legends.
The school’s gymnasium was filled with junior and senior classes and special guests from the community including Tom Beckett, Yale University’s athletic director; Scott Jackson, the Mayor of neighboring Hamden, Little’s nephew; Dr. Reginald Mayo, the superintendent of New Haven Public Schools, and Little’s high school football teammates and coach.
Speakers at Wednesday’s event included Dr. Leroy Williams, former principal at James Hillhouse High School, who served as emcee; George Veras, Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises president and CEO; and Allstate representative Scott Blume. Roger Harrison, a longtime friend of Little beginning at James Hillhouse and continuing as fraternity brothers while at Syracuse University, served as plaque presenter.
“’s path to success is rooted in this school and the New Haven community,” said Veras. “Now, Little is making his alma mater an extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame by choosing the school as the permanent home for this plaque.”
Before presenting Little with his “Hometown Hall of Famer™” plaque, Harrison spoke to the courage and determination that Little displayed as an athlete growing up. Before ending his speech he left the audience with one of Little’s own personal quotes that has always stuck with him, “Be all you can be, and never let anyone rob you of your dreams.”
Little is a regular visitor to his former high school where the Athletic Center has been named in his honor. He was also the first inductee into the James Hillhouse High School Hall of Fame. Little delivered a passionate speech to students encouraging them to live life to the fullest saying, “If you can live life without ever saying ‘I wish I had,’ then you will never have any regrets.”
“To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to cities like New Haven is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees,” said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate’s senior vice president of marketing.
After high school, Little went on to play college football at Syracuse. He was a three-time All-American running back during his years with the Orangemen.
Little was drafted in the first round, sixth player overall, by the in 1967
. His versatility allowed the Broncos to showcase his talents as return man as well as a runner. He led the AFL in punt returns during his rookie season. In his career from 1967 through 1975, he amassed more all-purpose yards (12,157) than any other player during that span.
In 1971, he made history when he became the first 1,000-yard rusher in Broncos history. In his nine seasons with Denver he rushed for 6,323 yards, added 2,418 yards on receptions, totaled 2,523 yards on kickoff returns and 893 yards via punt returns and scored 54 touchdowns.
Little was voted to two AFL All-Star Games and three AFC-NFC Pro Bowls.
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