The newest member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to have worn a Broncos uniform for his entire career was the man of honor at an alumni banquet at INVESCO Field at Mile High. So not only did Broncos from the past get to reminisce with one another, they got to congratulate one of their own.
"It's a wonderful opportunity, and this one's extra special because of Floyd," said Charley Johnson, who was the quarterback during Little's last few years with the Broncos. "It's real easy to celebrate with and for him. But I'm a Bronco forever and so many of these guys had a big part in what was a real fun time for me here as a Bronco. It's great to get back, and I get back every chance I get."
The alumni weekend happens every year, a chance for everyone in the Broncos family to get together.
"You go back to old memories, old fish stories, you start talking and telling them about how good you were," said Ring of Famer Randy Gradishar. "You know you’re talking to somebody — and the great thing about the alumni weekend is sometimes you haven’t met, or you’ve really only heard the name of a former Bronco, and it gives you the opportunity to create a conversation and to be able to relate with them a little bit even if they played in the '60s, or if they played in the '90s or 2000s."
That's a credit, Jim Turner said, to President and CEO Pat Bowlen.
"It's a great chance to understand the Broncos have got the best owner in all of sport," the Ring of Famer said. "It's a great chance to reminisce. I'm seeing some guys -- even though I live here -- that I haven't seen for a long time. It's good to see them."
But through all the festivities, the night -- and weekend -- was devoted to Little. The running back's Hall of Fame bust stood front and center for all to admire, alongside a No. 44 jersey and plenty of photos scattered throughout the room.
When the man of the hour arrived, he was overwhelmed by the amount of love he received from former teammates and some Broncos who he had only met briefly.
"It's perfect," Little beamed. "It's difficult because I can't get from one to the other because we've got so many stories to share. So many guys want to congratulate me and give me a hug."
His roommate for nine years with the Broncos, Fran Lynch, shared a big hug with the Hall of Famer. He recalled where he was when he heard his teammate finally made it to Canton, Ohio.
"A friend of mine texted me and it just said, 'Floyd made it,'" he said. "Then going to Canton, I got to see him for a total of about 30 seconds, because he was just moving all over the place. It was a great experience. When he was up on the stage and his son introduced him, which I thought was one of the better introductions, I got a little misty. It was neat."
A band played as the former Broncos enjoyed drinks and hors d'oeuvres before heading to their tables for dinner and a handful of speeches.
The event was a precursor to this Sunday, when Little will receive the final token of his enshrinement into the Hall of Fame -- his ring.
"75 or 80,000 people screaming, I get a ring that I'll cherish for a lifetime, I'll wear it every day -- probably even sleep in it," Little said. "I'm just so proud to have been a Bronco for all my career and to be a part of this organization and part of this franchise. I'm just so thrilled."
His former teammates are just as excited for the moment.
"I'm not going to miss that," Johnson said. "I hope it's packed. I bet it is."