Pro Football Hall of Fame HB Hugh McElhenny Dies at Age 93

Doric SamJune 23, 2022

Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

Pro Football Hall of Famer Hugh McElhenny died of natural causes on June 17 at the age of 93.

Pro Football Hall of Fame @ProFootballHOF

It is with deep sadness the Pro Football Hall of Fame shares the passing of Hugh McElhenny. He died at the age of 93.<br><br>We pass along our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and to the many whose lives he touched. <br><br>More Info: <a href="https://t.co/ur3OgXx2eC">https://t.co/ur3OgXx2eC</a> <a href="https://t.co/5vWHZn4y4s">pic.twitter.com/5vWHZn4y4s</a>

A halfback in the NFL for 13 years, McElhenny is best known for his nine-season run with the San Francisco 49ers. He also spent time with the Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants and Detroit Lions before his retirement in 1964. He was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the class of 1970, and he had his No. 39 jersey retired by San Francisco.

Pro Football Hall of Fame @ProFootballHOF

McElhenny played in the National Football League for 13 years – 1952-1960 San Francisco 49ers, 1961-62 Minnesota Vikings and 1964 Detroit Lions. <br><br>Nicknamed “The King,” McElhenny was enshrined as a member of the Hall of Fame’s Class of 1970. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/HOFForever?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#HOFForever</a> <a href="https://t.co/zKW5Tqyiu2">pic.twitter.com/zKW5Tqyiu2</a>

Nicknamed "The King," McElhenny was one of the most prolific runners of his era. He was a member of San Francisco's "Million Dollar Backfield" along with quarterback Y.A. Tittle and running backs Joe “The Jet” Perry and John Henry Johnson. They are the only four-member backfield ever to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

McElhenny earned six Pro Bowl selections and first-team All-Pro honors five times. He also was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1950s. At the time of his retirement, he had accumulated the third-most all-purpose yards in NFL history with 11,375 along with 60 total touchdowns.

"Hugh McElhenny was a threat in all phases of the game offensively–rushing, pass receiving and as a kick and punt returner," Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said. "His all-around talent–obvious to pro football scouts when Hugh was still a teenager–will be celebrated and preserved forever in Canton."

After his playing career, McElhenny spent six years as a color commentator for 49ers radio broadcasts. Not short on confidence, he later said he would have thrived in the modern NFL if he played in the West Coast offense.

"I was a gifted athlete. Things came easy to me. … If I was playing today, I think I'd be a No. 1 draft choice. The only thing is I don't know if I'd be a wide receiver or a running back," he said during a 1999 interview.


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