Although he had great speed, Perry was basically a straight-ahead runner when he turned pro.
Joe Perry put Compton Junior College on the football map when he scored 22 touchdowns in one season. However, before he completed his college football career, he was called into military service.
He was playing football for the Alameda, California Naval Training Station team when spotted by a player from the San Francisco 49ers of the new All-America Football Conference.
The player reported his find to the 49ers’ hierarchy who offered Joe a contract. Upon his discharge from the military in 1948, Perry accepted their proposal.
But as in everything he did on a football field, Joe quickly adjusted and promptly emerged as one of the premiere runners in the young league.
His superior speed earned him the nickname “The Jet” during his second season.
In 1950, the 49ers and their star running back joined the National Football League. Perry, at 6-0 and 200 pounds was small for an NFL fullback.
Unlike the typical fullback of the day, his forte was not as an inside power runner. Instead, he combined his power with his quickness and deceptive elusiveness to slash through opposing defenses.
He became the first player in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, a feat he accomplished in 1953 and 1954.
"The Jet" played 13 seasons with the 49ers before being traded to the Baltimore Colts in 1961. After two seasons with the Colts he returned to San Francisco for one final season. In 16 seasons of outstanding play, Joe Perry amassed a total of 9,723 rushing yards and averaged an amazing 4.9 yards per carry.
Joe Perry signs autographs for young fans.
Perry and fellow HOFer Leo Nomellini take the field.
Joe Perry earned election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1969. Perry tapped Mrs. Tony Morabito, then co-owner of the San Francisco 49ers to serve as his presenter.
Joe Perry is introduced to the crowd prior to the 1969 NFL/Hall of Fame Game.
Perry was a staple at the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement Festival. Here he greets Class of 2009 enshrinee Ralph Wilson, Jr. at the Enshrinees Dinner.
Joe Perry's Hall of Fame mural.
Joe Perry's Hall of Fame bust.
A portrait of Joe Perry taken in August, 2010.