We had a chance to interview former Denver Bronco great Floyd Little along with Billly Thompson joining in.
Tom "Welcome Floyd, I see you made quite a bit of influence here in Denver and made the Ring of Fame right".
Floyd "Yes made the ring of Fame and plus they put a statue of me here at my Alma Mater Syracuse University. In addition to the statue Syracuse University just made me an honorary doctorate degree so things are just really super”.
Tom "Now that people have to call the doctor".
Floyd "That's right. I just ordered a white coat and a stethoscope. I'm going to be handing out some aspirin and if you need me I'll make house calls to make sure you're OK”.
Tom "We're doing a segment about Bronco players than and now and we're lucky enough to have two former great Bronco players including Floyd Little and Billy Thompson. They both played together and they complemented each other that almost got you to the Super Bowl".
Floyd "Yeah well I've known Billy he's my oldest living friend and I just received a message, it was a painting of Billy, Tom Jackson and myself when we are on the town at the Hall of Fame. Our friendship has been since 1968-69, so when you look back at how many years we've been friends. It's been that way Billy calls me on a regular basis and during the season maybe almost like three times a month. We did returns and kickoffs together our entire career and we had a bond. He was on one side or another side. It was a mutual respect and we really root for each other on and off the field. I was delighted when he went into the Ring of Fame. I think the only thing that's missing is he's being totally ignored for the Pro Football Hall of Fame because he certainly was a player that is worthy of that kind of recognition. Every year we have a mock vote for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and it's like going to Randy Gradishar he's at the top of my list that says he belongs in the football hall of fame and somehow we can't figure out how to get him in there".
Tom "You said earlier that you are grateful that he came part of the team because he took some of the load off feet for a little bit”?
Floyd "He took a lot of load because he was greedy, he always wanted to return and get kickoffs, he pushed me aside so he can get it. And then we recruited Rick Upchurch to come back there so there was now three of us who had the duty and we returned punts and kickoffs. Back in those days we were responsible for than one thing, I was on extra point field goal team, punt protection team, punt coverage team. We had to do double or triple duty and it was necessary because we want to help our team win. It's just not like that today, but there is not a lot of Billy Thompson in the world and he was a great player for 12, 13 or 14 years and he started out as a corner and ended up as a safety and he covered some of the best receivers and did a great job. That's why I think Billy is deserving Hall of Fame consideration".
Billy "Well thanks Floyd. But it was a different time like you said and we had to do it if we wanted to win, we had to do more than one thing. You know it was with you you you and me me me me".
Floyd "That's it.. Who is going to take the kickoff or the punt. We had a signal that either I or Billy would say you you you to take it or me me me for him to take it. But I've watched this franchise become one of the top five franchises in professional football. I mean, we were also rans back in the day and they thought Denver today still has covered wagons, I mean do the Native Americans still attack you when you go to there. There was a time when the Broncos franchise was in jeopardy of moving and with the likes of getting a Billy Thompson and Tom Jackson, it really helped solidify what the city needed and wanted. And they've been one of the winning teams in the league and they've gotten a lot of fans over the years. I am in New York State and I see people wearing Broncos attire and walk over to them and ask are you a Bronco fan. They said well yeah. How long have you been a fan? Well since Floyd Little was playing for them because he came from Syracuse and I said hey I am Floyd. They said really. I said of course I am. Are you kidding me and that's Bronco fans. So for me to be able to represent the Denver Broncos at Syracuse and everywhere I go it's just an honor to say that I'm a Bronco and we stay a Bronco our entire career. That says a lot about the kind of players we were and how loyal and dedicated we are to our fans".
Tom "It's unusual for a player nowadays to stay with any team for the entire length of their career. So was it normal back then to stay with one team"?
Floyd "Well not entirely, we got players from the raiders and we got players from the chiefs. I remember those fellows Dave Cosson and Rich Jackson they came from other teams. It was when some players went from team to team for filling positions that came open. There was a lot of players who stayed there entire career with a team like Billy and I mean the three of us was as you know we've stayed with the same team. We had great careers and all of us in the Ring of Fame. I worked for NBC Sports for two years to something like 20 to 24 games. I've been in most stadium except that new one's there is no better fan that I witnessed than the Denver Broncos”.
Tom "You can see it all the time with the fans. I get a kick out of this Floyd, is that the media really hypes the Broncos and when the news comes on the first news is about the Broncos and even if something really bad happens like an earthquake kills thousands of people, but first let's go to the Denver Bronco locker room to see what’s happening".
Floyd "Right, we'll be back with what happened on the earthquake, but right now it's the Denver Broncos. I mean from the Broncos we were able to get the Nuggets and get the Rockies and able to get a Lacrosse team and a hockey team. I mean we have representation in all those sports because of the Broncos. I'm sure because what the players did during that time they were able to get more professional teams in Denver. Denver is a great city because they support their teams unlike other cities who could only support either the basketball or football team. The Denver Broncos support other professional sports and that's unusual”.
Tom "I asked this earlier Floyd, tell me your thoughts about how the salaries have changed from back then to today and with your stats, if you are a free agent what would you command today for a salary"?
Floyd "It's ridiculous especially if I was playing the special teams and I was running the ball. There's no telling. in fact I think about it from time to time I kind of want to sue my parents for having me too soon. I should have been able to enjoy some of the benefits of what these players are making today. If I was 20 today and same with Billy we would be making millions. Compared to what we made I signed for 10 grand and I played for Twenty four, twenty six, twenty eight for a 3 years contract. So it's way different from today and I don't know if the players today can appreciate the guys that paved the way. I get a little concerned when they're voting for opportunities for former players that could play very well. It's unfortunate that some have lost touch with reality that year to year and you're making millions because of people like me and Billy. And maybe they should appreciate that we as former players from the 1960’s and 1970’s had a major role in the game to allow these players to make the kind of money they make today. I would like for someone from time to time thank us otherwise they might not be here and we don't have enough of that. I mean, I'm not I'm not complaining or anything, but when I talk to guys and say well I only made 20 grand. Well that was a lot of money back in those days. You know after taxes we all had other jobs. We had to go to work. Soon as the season was over we all had to go to work. Today they don't and they can carry themselves for a while and some of these guys get bonuses so they never have to work another day in their life. All I'm saying is they somehow, some way, they should say these guys laid the foundation, thank you guys for paving the way for me to be a millionaire".
Tom "Arnold Palmer back in the 1960’s after winning a golf tournament was only a couple of grand, then he put the big money into the game and changed the golf game considerably".
Floyd "And it's not sorry grapes, I'm not mad, but from time to time I would like to hear, appreciate your sacrifice and thanks. And that's all I'm saying".
Tom "Do you think these athletes that make that kind of money is hurting the game in some capacity. What are your thoughts about how the money has changed the game"?
Floyd "I don't think it's hurting the game. I think you should be a paid in a profession that could cripple you for life. If they risking their lives, I think it should be compensated accordingly. You know the people who are sponsoring it certainly are reaping the benefits. I think the players would make as much as they can make. All I'm saying is that they're entitled to it. It changed the game a little bit. They're all specialists now. I mean Billy and I weren't Specialist. We played every game, we were running to take somebody out if need be. It's a structured game today and yes it’s changed. They get the yards they need to get. I got some of my best runs broken two tackles and get two yards. It's not considered a good run today, you can average four and a half to be considered a Hall of Famer. So it's different, but the money hasn't changed the game. I think the desires still there, the opportunity there, these guys are bigger, stronger, faster, because of the equipment they have and because of the programs they go through. But overall the game has changed now because the size of a guy. When I was playing someone who weighed 235 he was a big guy. Today a defensive end is 235 to 300. And they run just fast, it is amazing that a guy at 280 can run that fast, just remarkable. I love the game and I love seen the opportunities for the athletes, I love that they can get a healthy start in life financially. Like I said and I think Billy will agree to say hey guys thanks. It's all we want. I'm not asking them for any money or taking any money out of his pocket, but to say hey we really appreciate you guys, Thank you".
Tom "Floyd, one thing that I would like to ask you is now that you are a doctor”.
Floyd "What kind of prescription are you trying for to me to write”.
Tom "How are you enjoying your career as the Special Assistant to the Athletic Director at your former alma mater Syracuse University. Is your role in life full filling or was it more enjoyable when you where a player".
Floyd "No, I got to think that this my most favorite job I've ever had. I have a chance to help shape and change a life. I have the opportunity to talk to 17, 18, 19 year olds everyday about their future and how to prepare for it, How to get ready for the major challenge in their life. In fact, I'm speaking to the graduating classes at a number of colleges this year and I talk about what kind of legacy their going to leave and how they are going to prepare themselves for the last four years. I talk about the things that they need to really recognize and face and understand the challenges that they have to face and the fact that they are ambassadors of their college now and they need to represent university the best possible way they can in the pursuit of happiness and greatness. I have a chance to talk to a student athlete male and female, just a couple of weeks ago we had a losing tennis team and tennis coach came to my office, he's got about eight players he said can you talk to my team. We've lost three in a row. So I went over and talked with his players unannounced right in practice set them all on the court. I gave them a piece of wisdom, It's not that I'm saying things that they don't understand or know, it's just that they have to apply themselves a little bit differently. So when I'm able to do that and affect that, Well both teams went to the final four, our teams never been to the elite 8 and then a final four and play for the championship. These are the kids that I influence every day. And it is just so powerful for me to look at the results of what I was able to contribute to. So it's not that anything is changed other than making the kids have come sit down talk to me about their concerns or problems and help them look for direction. During study hall and doing tutoring, I just walk over to them and says hey C's and D's get degrees too. I was a C student and I'm not ashamed of it. There only three kind of students in the world those are make things happen or those who watch things happen and those that don't know what happen. You just have to make things happen every day and you need to make sure you get what you came here to get. And this is the kind of conversations I have with a lot of our student athletes and I'm just proud that I am here and I've had some effect on them. So you want to know what my favorite job has been, it is right here at Syracuse University influencing and impacting young lives and I get a chance to do that every day. So I'm very proud of it".
Tom "It's a transition turning to an adult from 18-22. We don't have enough emphasis on the huge change going from 18 to 22 and then they're on. And one last thought, I had a math teacher as a friend he's been teaching for 25 years and kids never forget him. They're still coming up to him from 25 years ago, Oh yeah I remember going to high school and you teaching. That's what kind of impact that you'll have on these kids. Well 20 years later in their lives they're going to say oh I remember Floyd".
Floyd "Right, This is what's great for me. I help them prepare for the next step in their lives and let them know how much you care. Help them to start caring and make others sometimes a priority and don't just think of yourself so much. Because you reap what you sow. I tell them how to deal with bullies and how to get out of that, how to not let anybody influence them in a negative way. Here's what you say. Here's how you behave, here's what you do. And take ownership of what you're doing and how you do it".
Tom "Do remember Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hil,l those kind of individuals”?
Floyd "Oh Yes, what the mind can conceive the body can achieve. That is what you can vividly imagine and ultimately desire you could make it to come to pass. Sure, I use them from time to time. I also use Reverend Schuller saying I rather attempt to do something great than fail, than attempt to do nothing and succeed. These are good things that you can grab in and axpand on and really for me I look at a young guy and I could see just his innocence the time is ticking on him. I can have a person sitting in my office and close their eyes and imagine what you want to be in five years from now and I tell them to open their eyes and now how you are going to get there. How time will pass you could be exactly where you want to be. So you know it's fun for me to have the opportunity to do that and I enjoy coming in every day with an opportunity to change life and that's what makes this position so great and enjoyable and now that you're going to bestow upon me an honorary Doctorate. It's just unbelievable. Billy knows where I came out of and he knows how challenging it's been for me to get to this level to be a Hall of Famer and now I'll get an honorary doctorate degree. When you come from where we came from there's no possible way, but I've made a way and I'm just so happy that I had the opportunity to have this conversation with you because it really means something to me”.
Floyd Little was a Running Back for the Denver Broncos from