NFL Hall of Famer and Former San Francisco 49ers Player Hugh McElhenny Dead at 93
Hugh McElhenny, a former football professional who played for the San Francisco 49ers, has died. He was 93.
McElhenny, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1970, died of natural causes in his Nevada home on June 17, according to the Hall of Fame.
Earning the nickname "The King" in his rookie season with San Francisco in 1952, the halfback would go on to earn All-Pro status as well as a spot on the Pro Bowl team.
He later joined the Minnesota Vikings in its inaugural season in 1961 and became the team's leading rusher, according to the Vikings. He also played for the New York Giants and the Detroit Lions.
"Hugh McElhenny was a threat in all phases of the game offensively — rushing, pass receiving and as a kick and punt returner," said Hall of Fame president Jim Porter in a statement. "His all-around talent — obvious to pro football scouts when Hugh was still a teenager — will be celebrated and preserved forever in Canton."
McElhennny was born in 1928 and raised in Los Angeles, where his athletic ability attracted scouts early on. San Francisco offered McElhenny a contract right out of high school; however, he turned down the opportunity to attend college instead.
Aside from his work on the football field, he was also an accomplished track star in his teenage years. He won several state championships in high hurdles (setting a national record), low hurdles and the long jump while attending George Washington High School.
McElhenny would attend Compton Junior College for a year. There, he led the team to an undefeated season and Junior Rose Bowl title before he transferred to the University of Washington.
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He was a first-round pick in the 1952 NFL Draft, going straight to San Francisco, where he immediately began breaking records. In his debut NFL season, he achieved the longest run from scrimmage (89 yards), the longest punt return (94 yards), most all-purpose yards (1,731) and most yards per carry (7.0), according to the Hall of Fame.
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After retiring from the field, he served as a commentator on 49ers radio broadcasts for six years.
McElhenny, a member of the NFL's All-Decade Team of the 1950s, was elected to the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1970. According to the NFL, he scored 60 touchdowns and recorded 11,375 all-purpose yards in his career.