Floyd Little didn’t do speeches, he told stories from the heart.
Bordentown City Mayor James Lynch still remembers to this day that statement the National Football League legend told him.
Growing up watching Little shred defenses during his two years on the Bordentown Military Institute (BMI) football team, Lynch got to know the NFL Hall of Fame running back as a great person off the field as well.
Lynch’s father, James Lynch (Sr.), would have Little over for dinner a lot and the family became in awe of the family oriented and caring person that Little was.
His attitude, enthusiasm and work ethic to succeed on the field and thrive in life was inspiring to see unfold in college and at the professional level.
In retrospect, Little “epitomized” what the Bordentown community is, in the eyes of Lynch.
“It’s how I envision Bordentown to be,” Lynch said. “Great residents and hard working people working together to help everyone live a great life in a good town. Floyd (Little) fit this place like a glove.”
On New Year’s Day, many football fans and people around the county mourned the passing of Little, who died at the age of 78.
Little was battling Stage 2 neuroendocrine tumor cancer, and it was reported in November that he had entered hospice care.
“It felt like I lost my father again,” Lynch said of hearing the news of Little’s passing. “He was a true professional and a caring person. He always made athletes and people feel good about themselves.”
Before Little became a star running back for the Syracuse University football team and had a Hall of Fame career for the Denver Broncos that spanned nine seasons, he captured the hearts of the Bordentown community every Saturday afternoon from 1961-62 as a cadet.
Lynch remembers going to every game those two seasons to watch Little score “five to six touchdowns” each contest and lead BMI to back-to-back 8-0 undefeated seasons. Little’s number 77 was retired by BMI in 1963, after he graduated from the institute as president of his class.
Little never forgot his time in Bordentown.
He was honored at City Hall for being inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Lynch remembers Little telling him how much BMI and the Bordentown community meant to him when he returned to the area for his ceremony in 2010.
“Some good people saw good in me and helped me,” Lynch recalled Little told him.
Little was the sixth overall pick by the Broncos in the 1967 NFL Draft.
During his nine seasons in the NFL, Little rushed for 6,323 yards and 43 touchdowns. He was a five-time Pro Bowler and retired in 1975 as the seventh leading rusher in the history of the league at the time.
Little was a three-time All-American at Syracuse, compiling 2,704 rushing yards and 35 touchdowns during his collegiate career. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983.
Syracuse and the Broncos have both retired his number 44.
President-Elect Joe Biden and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell both paid tribute to Little in statements made on Jan. 2.
Biden, who attended law school at Syracuse when Little was there, called the Hall of Fame running back a “good man” and said that he is going to miss his dear friend in a press release.
“Floyd Little and I were students at Syracuse University together,” Biden said. “In the years that followed, I got to know Floyd as the man behind the number. He was full of character, decency and integrity. He was always gracious with his time with fans — parents and grandparents who wanted to introduce their children and grandchildren to a genuine role model.”
Goodell spoke out about how fortunate he was to get to know Little and see his impact on others first hand.
“Floyd Little was not only a Hall of Fame running back, he was a Hall of Fame person. Faith, family and football were the pillars of his life,” said Goodell.
To honor Little and his impact on the Bordentown community, Lynch has directed all flags in Bordentown City to be flown at half-staff for 30 days.
Little is a native of New Haven, Connecticut. He is survived by his wife, DeBorah, and their three children, Marc, Christy and Kyra.