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Way Back When: Floyd Little's last home game


The Denver Broncos do not have a lengthy or particularly memorable history against the Philadelphia Eagles.

That is understandable, considering the two teams play in different conferences and are separated by two time zones.

But when we do play the Eagles, one game and one play forever come to mind.

It was on Dec. 14, 1975 at old Mile High Stadium, and it was Floyd Little's last home game.

Every player has his final home game at some point, but Little was a future Hall of Famer, Ring of Famer, and had already announced that the 1975 season would be his last.

He had been the first first-round draft choice to ever sign with Denver, and Little had created a legacy for the ages in his nine years with the team.

Famously recruited to West Point by no less than U.S. Army Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Little had instead gone to Syracuse because of a promise he had made to the late Ernie Davis.

Both men are now immortalized by statues to them at Syracuse.

Little's leadership was evidenced by his having been named a team captain in all nine of his Bronco seasons.

And now his time before the home fans was down to one final game.

"From my first moment in Denver, I was in love with the city," Little told me. "The fans immediately and forever embraced me. I always had a special bond with them, and the idea that this was my last home game was at the front of my mind all week and all day, every minute."

The Broncos posted a 25-10 win over the Eagles before just 36,860 diehards on that cold December day.

Denver would finish 6-8 but took just five wins into that contest with Philadelphia, and the temperature at kickoff was a mere 18 degrees, holding down the actual attendance.

But Little was his usual self, one last time.

He accounted for over 100 yards and scored two touchdowns.

One was on a routine short run, but the other had the pixie dust of which memories are made.

Denver's starting quarterback was Steve Ramsey, as nice a guy as ever played the position for the Broncos.

It was late in the game and the numbing temperatures had only gotten colder.

And then Ramsey and Little combined for the longest scoring screen pass in team history. It covered 66 yards and began with Little having to jump slightly and reach up to pull in the ball before threading his way down the west sideline.

Fans could see quickly that they were watching something special, a special player in a special moment of time.

Little got a huge downfield block by wide receiver Haven Moses before cutting back toward the middle and finishing his 66-yard gem in the south end zone.

How fitting that he scored his last big touchdown before the South Standers, fans who at that time in team history were considered the most passionate, loyal and faithful — even among the fervor of the fandom in general.

They did not stop the game. Little acted in the end zone like he had been there before and just handed the ball to the nearest official.

Routine, but special.

That was Floyd Little.

He just gave the ball to the official and jogged back to the bench after the longest scoring screen pass in team history, and his last long run in a career of them.

But the fans cheered on and never stopped.

After the final whistle, fans rushed the field and carried him off on their backs.

Even today, as I write this, it brings tears to my eyes.

I was a radio reporter then, before my own 44 years on the team payroll had begun, and I remember spending a few precious moments with Floyd after interviewing him postgame.

"It was super — like somebody wrote it into the script," Little told The Denver Post.

He was all class, first class, and nothing but class, always.

And that is what I remember most about the Broncos playing the Eagles in Denver.

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