Hugh McElhenny, Elusive Hall of Fame Halfback, has died at the age of 93.

Hall of Fame halfback Hugh McElhany, known in the football world of the 1950s as King for his thrilling, steep abilities, first with the University of Washington and then the San Francisco 49ers, on June 17. He passed away. Home in Henderson, New. He was 93 years old.

His daughter, Karen Lane McElhani, confirmed the death Thursday but did not give a cause. The Pro Football Hall of Fame also announced the death on Thursday.

McElhenny was a great figure on the field, spinning and turning as he left the frustrated defenders on his circuit romps to the finish zone.

“Hugh McElhenny was as good an open field runner as you’ve ever seen,” his teammate Joe Perry, the 49ers’ Hall of Fame fullback, once said.

“I was the best runner in the middle, and Hugh was an excellent outside runner who zigzagged and zigzagged all over the place,” said Perry, one of football’s first black stars. Gauntlet, “I said. 2009), The Oral History of the Game’s Ethnic Pioneers. “Sometimes he would spin so much that the same man would remember him twice in the same race.”

McElhenny was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1981. He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decades team for the 1950s.

At 6-foot-1 and about 200 pounds, he quickly set a record for the Washington Huskies of the Pacific Coast Conference. As a junior, he ran 296 yards and scored five touchdowns in the victory over Washington State. As a senior, in 1951, he ran a pint 100 yards against Southern California. He was an All-American for a team that won just three games this season.

That said, it was well worth the effort. In a 2004 interview with The Seattle Post-Intelligence, he stated that while playing for Washington, he had received regular cash payments and other unreasonable benefits from alumni and team promoters totaling a total of 10,000 annually. Today’s amount is about $ 115,000).

“I know it was illegal for me to receive cash, and I received cash every month,” he said. “I knew it was illegal to buy clothes, and I always got clothes from the shops. I got a check every month, and it was never signed by one person, so we never knew. “Who is it coming from? They invested in me every year. I was a movie star there.”

The 49ers selected McElhenny as a first-round draft pick and signed him to a 7,000 contract, which meant he was receiving a pay cut for playing pro football.

McElhenny said he got his nickname, King, from 49er quarterback Frankie Albert after returning a pint for a 94-yard touchdown against the Chicago Bears in his fourth Pro Game.

“Albert gave me the game ball and said, ‘Now you’re king,'” he recalled in Joseph Hesson’s book Forty Nights: Looking Back (1985). (College Football Hall of Fame compares him to another celebrity, King, saying that McElhany was a football supporter in the 1950s and early 1960s who played Elvis Presley in rock and roll. Had to do. “)

McElhenny was the NFL rookie of the year in 1952, averaging seven yards per carry. Two years later, when he averaged eight yards per run, Albert’s successor in the quarterback, the YA title, and three others – Mac Elhani and John Henry Johnson at halfback and Perry at fullback – for their offensive power. Collectively named Million Dollar Backfield. All four were eventually inducted into the Hall of Fame.

McElhenny played in six Pro Bowls, was a first-team All-Pro twice and scored a total of 11,375 yards – running, passing catches and returning pints, kickoffs and fumbles – in his 12 years in the NFL: nine 49ers Together, the two Minnesota Vikings, the 1963 season with the Giants and the final year with the Detroit Lines.

Hugh Edward McElhenny Jr. Born July 31, 1928, in Los Angeles to Hugh and Pearl McElhenny. He was a football and obstacle star in high school, then played a season at Compton Junior College in the Los Angeles area.

He became a football celebrity in Washington, although Huskies never made it to the Bowling Games in his three years there. The payments he acknowledged were part of a wider scandal that led to the 1956 Pacific Coast Conference fining Washington, as well as supporters of the University of Southern California, UCLA and the University of California, Berkeley. Punished players for past illegal payments.

After his time with the 49ers and his time with the Vikings, McElhenny was reunited with the title, having traded with the Giants through the 49ers in 1961. The title took the Giants to the NFL Championship Game for the third time in a row in 1963 – a Chicago Bears loss – but McElhany, after knee surgery, was able to cover only 175 yards this year and then was released. Done.

He later became part of an investment group that failed to bid for Seattle’s NFL expansion franchise, the team that began playing as Seahawks in 1976.

In addition to her daughter Karen, McElhany is survived by another daughter, Susan Ann Hemanway. A sister, Beverly Palmer; Four grandchildren And eight grandchildren. His wife, Peggy McElhani, died in 2019.

In the spring of 1965, Frank Gayford, McElhani’s collegiate rival, gave a retirement party for him when he played for the USC and later for his Giants team-mate, and recorded film clips of McElhany’s brilliant giants. Probably his most famous: 100-yard return to Washington against the USC

McElhenny ignored his coach’s request to let football go into the end zone for a touchback, which gave Washington the ball at the 20-yard line.

“Our coach, Howie O’Dell, was running downstairs screaming, ‘Let him go, let him go!'” He told the Seattle Times. “Suddenly he stopped screaming. It was a silly game on my part, but it worked.

McElhenny once said that his style of running was not something he had been taught. “It’s just a gift from God,” he said. “I did things with gusto.”

Maya Coleman contributed to the reporting.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.