I know I am a little prejudiced in my evaluation since he coached me in college, and became one of my best friends, but I have seen enough film and football throughout the years to make my argument. Not to mention that the Hall must agree since he is one of two right guards to be admitted into the Hall of Fame.
The thing is if you ask anyone who played during his era, and trust me I did plenty of times hoping someone who played would give me some ammo to fire back at him at some point, who was the best offensive lineman they played against, his name would come up about 90 percent of the time.
I remember when he would have his annual hall of fame golf tournament to raise money for the university. Guys like Mike Webster, Deacon Jones, Joe Greene, Mercury Morris, and a host of other stars would come out in support of their fellow hall of famer. We had all heard the stories of Larry Little because most of the time he told them himself, but on this occasion they were being verified by other people with high credentials.
Don’t get it twisted; it wasn’t like we didn’t know who he was. When he arrived on our campus he had to be in his late 40’s early 50’s and he still looked like he could walk in and put on a uniform and play, so with that he had our respect.
I will never forget the conversation I had with Joe Greene in 1996 at the Hall of Fame golf tournament. Greene stated, “Every time we played Miami, it seemed that Little was always in front of me. We battled several times and I came away from each game with more respect for him than ever. Whatever he did, I just couldn’t ever shake him.” Now when I heard that from Joe Greene, I nearly lost it. I’m like you are Mean Joe Greene. He was like seriously “Larry is the best, ask anyone in the room.” At that point I knew it was so because Joe Greene didn’t just endorse anyone. (Well anyone that didn’t drink Coke)
I even went at Mercury Morris who I knew would have something bad to say but even Mercury would say “Chicken is the best.” I was like Chicken Little. Mercury said yes. He got that nickname when he was in San Diego. During his rookie season he went out with the guys and he ate two half chickens and drank a bottle of ripple (Fred Sanford would be proud). I was like “YES” I finally have some ammo. Then he looked at me and told me if I ever called him Chicken I wouldn’t receive a paycheck so I never let him hear me say that.
Anyway, later that day they threw on some game film (when I say film I mean film) of Larry Little dominating the people in front of him. Inside I was like wow but the “G” in me wouldn’t let him see that I was sweating his prowess. There was one play where the Dolphins (Yeah that’s the 72 undefeated Dolphins for those that don’t know) were running a sweep to the left. Larry pancakes two guys leading the way for Mercury down the sidelines. When I say leading, I mean literally leading. These two men look like they are racing and the big man is winning. I bet if I asked him if he were faster than Morris and Larry Csonka he would say yes. Even if he wasn’t he would say it because in his heart he believed it. See that is what separates the good from the great. The great one’s have that IT factor about them. The IT factor makes them larger than life.
One thing I know is that the man changed my life. He taught me how to harness the talent that I had and get the most out of it. He also knew what to say and when to say it. He helped me in my every effort to take my game to the next level and when that episode of my life didn’t materialize he opened up a new chapter that led me to the realm of coaching and academia. I guess what I didn’t realize is that he was still blocking and paving the way for people like me long after his career was over. That alone makes him the best right guard in the business.