NFL Corridor of Famer Hugh McElhenny, an elusive working again from the Fifties has died. He was 93.
The Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame mentioned in a information launch that McEhlenny died of pure causes on June 17 at his residence in Nevada, and that son-in-law Chris Permann confirmed the dying.
Elected to the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame in 1970, McElhenny’s thrilling runs and all-around expertise as a runner, receiver and kick returner made him one of many NFL’s prime gamers of the Fifties. He was the league’s Rookie of the Yr in 1952 (earlier than the award grew to become official) and made two All-Professional groups, six Professional Bowls and the NFL’s All-Decade squad of the Fifties.
“Hugh McElhenny was a menace in all phases of the sport offensively — speeding, move receiving and as a kick and punt returner. His all-around expertise — apparent to professional soccer scouts when Hugh was nonetheless an adolescent — will probably be celebrated and preserved ceaselessly in Canton,” Corridor of Fame President Jim Porter mentioned in a press release.
An all-conference participant at Washington, the place he set a number of Pacific Coast Convention data, McElhenny was chosen ninth total within the 1952 draft and made a direct impression. Not solely did he lead the run-happy NFL in yards per carry (7.0) that season, however McElhenny had the longest rush from scrimmage, 89 yards, and the longest punt return, 94 yards. He scored 10 touchdowns as a rookie.
It was the start of a stretch of 9 seasons during which McElhenny was the 49ers’ main offensive weapon. Solely in 1954, when a separated shoulder sidelined him after six video games, and 1960, his remaining yr in San Francisco, was McElhenny not a focus for the Niners.
“The 49ers household is heartbroken to be taught of the passing of one of many NFL’s all-time greats, Hugh McElhenny,” San Francisco co-chairman Dr. John York mentioned in a press release. “Rising up, my favourite staff was the 49ers. I bear in mind so many nice gamers from the late 50s and 60s. After I began to ask an alum to each sport, my purpose was to satisfy the “Million Greenback Backfield”. Hugh was the final of the 4 to hitch us and we remained pals. Hugh is a good a part of 49ers historical past.”
McEhlenny additionally was one thing of a franchise savior, which was becoming as a result of the 49ers as soon as tried to signal him out of highschool after they have been nonetheless within the All-American Soccer Convention.
“When Hugh joined the 49ers in 1952,” Lou Spadia, then the staff’s normal supervisor, mentioned, “it was questionable whether or not our franchise might survive. McElhenny eliminated all doubts. That’s why we name him our franchise saver.”
Defenders would name him one thing else as they acquired arms filled with air as a substitute of the ball provider.
“My perspective carrying the ball was concern,” he mentioned. “Not a concern of getting damage, however a concern of getting caught from behind and brought down and embarrassing myself and my teammates.”
Simply recognizable for his lengthy stride and excessive knee motion, McElhenny not solely was quick however had the strikes of a break dancer a long time earlier than break dancing grew to become a factor.
“Getting ready for a staff that lists McElhenny on the roster,” mentioned Hamp Pool, who coached the archrival Rams from 1952-54, “you simply can’t take any probabilities.”
Coincidentally, his long-time 49ers backfield mate, fullback Joe Perry — one other Corridor of Famer — had performed at Compton Junior School in California, the place McElhenny starred earlier than heading to Washington. Collectively in San Francisco, they shaped certainly one of professional soccer’s finest backfield tandems.
However the Niners made the postseason solely as soon as with McElhenny, dropping a Western Convention title playoff sport with Detroit in 1957. By 1961, with McElhenny sporting down a bit, he was left on the growth draft listing and scooped up by Minnesota. He had a strong season and made the Professional Bowl because the Vikings went 3-11 of their inaugural season.
Knee issues then slowed him. He performed yet one more yr with Minnesota, spent 1963 as a backup with the New York Giants, the place he performed in his solely NFL title sport, dropping to Chicago, and completed his profession in 1964 with Detroit.
When he retired, McElhenny was certainly one of three gamers to have gained greater than 11,000 all-purpose yards.