The Del Gaizo twins, Jim and John, 1965 graduates of Revere High, are fondly remembering their Syracuse University football teammate Floyd Little, who died on Jan. 1 at the age of 78.
Little was a three-time All-American running back for the Orangemen and went on to have a great career for the Denver Broncos, earning induction into the National Football League Hall of Fame.
Jim DelGaizo was a quarterback on that 1966 Syracuse team that featured All-Americans Floyd Little and Larry Csonka in the backfield. The sensational southpaw set a school record with four touchdown passes in a 28-7 victory Maryland during an 8-2 season that earned Syracuse a trip to the Gator Bowl.
John Del Gaizo was a 6-foot-2-inch tight end who blocked for Little and Csonka. Though he caught passes from his brother, John excelled in his role as part of Syracuse’s awesome offensive line that opened the holes for the unstoppable tandem.
Interestingly, Little, a senior, entered the 1966 season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, but Csonka’s 1,000-yard rushing may have eclipsed Little’s quest for college football’s top award.
“Csonka started out as a starting middle linebacker, I’m not sure how many people know that,” said Jim. “But they needed help in the backfield because no one could block for Floyd, so they put Larry in to be a blocking back and after a while, it was obvious he was a star runner so Floyd kind of took a backseat to Csonka his last season but he accepted it.
“Floyd’s leadership skills were such that he didn’t fight it and he went with the flow,” added Jim. “He didn’t make any waves and he just showed what a gentleman he was. They were talking about Floyd for the Heisman Trophy and Csonka overshadowed him that year. Floyd was heckuva guy, he really was.”
John Del Gaizo agreed that Floyd Little was a terrific teammate and a highly respected senior that the underclassmen really admired for his leadership and support.
“Floyd was a really good, terrific guy,” said John Del Gaizo. “He was a very tough back, just a great all-around ballplayer. He treated all the new kids on the team so respectfully and gave them encouragement. He didn’t act like a superstar. He was so down-to-earth. I believe he got married while he was a student there.”
The Del Gaizos played football for Coach Silvio Cella at Revere and led the Patriots to a memorable 8-0 over Winthrop in the 1964 Thanksgiving game. They started their careers at Syracuse on the freshman team because freshmen were not eligible for varsity football at that time. The brothers played one varsity season at Syracuse before transferring to the University of Tampa where they were teammates for their junior and senior seasons under Coach Fran Curci. John caught 65 passes in his two seasons at Tampa.
Jim Del Gaizo and Floyd Little were later on opposing teams in the NFL. Jim was a quarterback on the undefeated Miami Dolphins team and played for the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants.
“We kept in touch,” said Jim. “I just remember Floyd being a terrific guy and a real gentleman.”