Bill Dudley Detroit Lions & Pittsburgh Steelers & Washington Redskins
"I think my talents would have been ideally suited to the wide-open type of football they play today.”
Bill Dudley must have firmly believed that the ball belonged to him. He wanted it all the time. And it seemed there wasn't anything he couldn't do with it. The 5-10, 182-pound halfback ran, passed, punted, and placekicked. He returned punts and kickoffs, caught passes, and was a deadly defender.
Dudley, who was nicknamed “Bullet Bill,” even though he was never considered to be fast, was a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1942. He demonstrated from the start that his relatively small size and lack of blazing speed wasn’t a detriment. In the first game of his pro career he ran for a 55-yard touchdown and in his second game scored on a kickoff return. He finished his rookie season as the league’s leading rusher with 696 yards and earned all-league honors.
Dudley’s nine-year National Football League career was unique in that he played three seasons each with the Steelers (1942, 1945-1946), Detroit Lions (1947-1949), and Washington Redskins (1950-1951, 1953). His career was interrupted in 1943 and 1944 when he served with the Army Air Corp during World War II.
He returned to the Steelers during the 1945 campaign. The 1946 season was, for Dudley, one for the record book; as he led the league in rushing, punt returns, interceptions, and lateral passes attempted. Never before had an NFL player led the league in four distinctly different statistical categories, and it’s not likely to happen again anytime soon. Naturally, Bill was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player that year.
The following season, Bill again demonstrated his tremendous versatility when he scored 11 touchdowns for the Lions on one punt return, one interception return, seven pass receptions, and two rushes. Six times Dudley was named first- or second-team All-NFL. He was also named to three Pro Bowls, and more than likely would have been named to more had the annual event not been temporarily discontinued.