Elijah Pitts

Elijah Eugene Pitts (February 3, 1938 – July 10, 1998) was an American football player, a halfback in the National Football League for eleven seasons, ten with the Green Bay Packers.[1][2] Late in his career, he briefly played for the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints. Pitts was an assistant coach in the league for over two decades, most notably as the assistant head coach of the Buffalo Bills.[3]

Elijah Pitts
No. 22
Personal information
Born:February 3, 1938
Mayflower, Arkansas
Died:July 10, 1998 (aged 60)
Buffalo, New York
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:204 lb (93 kg)
Career information
High school:Conway (AR) Pine Street
College:Philander Smith
NFL Draft:1961 / Round: 13 / Pick: 180
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing attempts:514
Rushing yards:1,788
Receiving yards:1,245
Player stats at NFL.com

Early years

Born in Mayflower, Arkansas, Pitts' father was a sharecropper.[1] He played high school football at segregated Pine Street High School in Conway, and also in the marching band at halftime.[4] Pitts had offers from Big Ten programs and notable black colleges, but chose to stay close to home and played college football at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, where his older brother and former coach were.[4] His cousin, Eugene Pitt, was the leader of The Jive Five[5]

Playing career

Pitts was selected by the Packers in the thirteenth round of the 1961 NFL draft, 180th overall.[3] He turned down a higher offer from the Boston Patriots of the AFL to play for a better team in the more established league.[4] A reserve for much of his early career behind hall of famer Paul Hornung,[6] he saw his most action for the Packers in 1966,[7][8] and scored two touchdowns in the first Super Bowl.[9][10][11]

In January 1970, after Lombardi's departure from the team, Pitts, Lee Roy Caffey, and Bob Hyland were traded to the Chicago Bears for the second overall pick in the 1970 NFL draft.[12][13] At age 32, he was cut by the Bears and played for the Rams and Saints in 1970,[14][15][16] then returned to Green Bay for a final season in 1971 with first-year head coach Dan Devine.[17]

Pitts was a member of all five NFL championship teams under head coach Vince Lombardi, including wins in the first two Super Bowls. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1979.

Coaching career

After his playing career ended, Pitts was a scout for two seasons in Green Bay under Devine.[17] He became an assistant coach for the Rams under head coach Chuck Knox in 1974, filling a running backs vacancy left by Dick Vermeil's departure to UCLA.[16] Pitts went with Knox to the Buffalo Bills in 1978, then left for the Houston Oilers in 1981, on first-year head coach Ed Biles' staff,[18] coaching hall of fame back Earl Campbell. After Biles was fired in 1983, Pitts spent a season in Canada with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 1984 with head coach Al Bruno.[19][20]

Pitts returned to the Bills in 1985 under head coach Kay Stephenson and was retained by new coaches Hank Bullough and Marv Levy in 1986. He became assistant head coach in 1992, coached in all four of the Bills' Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s, and substituted as head coach for Levy for three games in the 1995 season.[2]


In October 1997, Pitts was diagnosed with stomach cancer while he was still the Bills' assistant head coach. The disease claimed his life nine months later; he was 60 years old. Pitts was survived by his wife, two sons, and a daughter.[2][21]

Pitts' elder son Ron (b. 1962) was an NFL defensive back in the late 1980s with the Bills and Packers,[22] and is currently a sportscaster for CBS Sports Network.

See also


  1. ^ a b Goldstein, Richard (July 11, 1998). "Elijah Pitts, 60, star back for storied Packers". New York Times. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Bills coach Elijah Pitts dies battling cancer". Bangor Daily News. Maine. Associated Press. July 11, 1998. p. C6.
  3. ^ a b Hendricks, Martin (October 24, 2014). "Elijah Pitts a versatile player". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c Bailey, Jim (February 11, 2016). "Elijah Pitts: from Conway's "Pine Street Pony" to Super Bowl pioneer". Best of Arkansas Sports. (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette). Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  5. ^ Musicguy247, "Eugene Pitts," Robert von Bernewitz (interviewer)
  6. ^ Lea, Bud (September 9, 1965). "Pitts ready to step in". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 3, part 2.
  7. ^ Couch, Dick (October 31, 1966). "Elijah Pitts goes great". Florence Times. Alabama. Associated Press. p. 10.
  8. ^ Johnson, Chuck (November 15, 1966). "Packers' Pitts speaks softly but carries a big statistic". Milwaukee Journal. p. 16, part 2.
  9. ^ Lea, Bud (January 16, 1967). "Packers 'Super' in routing Chiefs". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  10. ^ Johnson, Chuck (January 16, 1967). "Packer old pros win in Super Bowl". Milwaukee Journal. p. 15, part 2.
  11. ^ "Jerry Kramer blocks for Elijah Pitts". Los Angeles Times. (color photo). January 15, 1967. Retrieved February 23, 2016.
  12. ^ Lea, Bud (January 22, 1970). "Packers get Bears' no. 1 pick". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1, part 2.
  13. ^ Pierson, Don (January 22, 1970). "Bears deal 2 - Mayes, No. 1 draft pick". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, part 3.
  14. ^ "Pitts activated by Los Angeles". Milwaukee Journal. UPI. September 26, 1970. p. 16.
  15. ^ "Pitts is waived". Milwaukee Journal. December 5, 1970. p. 19.
  16. ^ a b "Pitts named coach of backs by Rams". Milwaukee Journal. press dispatches. February 14, 1974. p. 21, part 2.
  17. ^ a b "Pitts will scout for Packers". Milwaukee Sentinel. December 29, 1971. p. 2, part 2.
  18. ^ "Oilers welcome Pitts as aide". Baltimore Afro-American. February 10, 1981. p. 11.
  19. ^ "Former Packer joins Hamilton". Ottawa Citizen. Canada. UPC. February 28, 1984. p. 14.
  20. ^ "Bills hire Elijah Pitts". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. February 20, 1985. p. 3C.
  21. ^ "Former Packers star, Bills coach dies". Eugene Register-Guard. regon. Associated Press. July 11, 1998. p. 6D.
  22. ^ Sauerberg, George (September 16, 1988). "Elijah Pitts' son signs with Pack". Milwaukee Journal. p. 1, part 2.

External links

1966 Baltimore Colts season

The 1966 Baltimore Colts season was the 14th season for the team in the National Football League. The Baltimore Colts finished the National Football League's 1966 season with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses and finished second in the Western Conference.

1966 Green Bay Packers season

The 1966 Green Bay Packers season was their 48th season overall and their 46th in the National Football League. The defending NFL champions had a league-best regular season record of 12–2, led by eighth-year head coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr, in his eleventh NFL season.

The Packers beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL championship game, the Packers' second consecutive NFL title, fourth under Lombardi, and tenth for the franchise. Two weeks later, the Packers recorded a 35–10 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the inaugural AFL-NFL Championship Game, retroactively known as Super Bowl I.

Quarterback Starr was named the league's most valuable player (MVP) in 1966. Said Cold Hard Football Facts about Starr's 1966 season, "Starr, always underappreciated, was at his classic assassin-like best in 1966, his lone MVP season. He led the league in completion percentage, yards per attempt and passer rating, while his 4.7-to-1 [touchdown-to-interception] ratio remains one of the very best in history. Starr, as always, cranked out great performances when he absolutely had to: the 1966 Packers, for example, were the worst rushing team in football, with a meager average of 3.5 [yards-per-attempt] on the ground, despite the reputation Lombardi's Packers still carry with them today as a dominant running team." Cold Hard Football Facts also notes that 1966 Packers had the best passer rating differential (offensive passer rating minus opponents passer rating), +56.0, in the Super Bowl Era.

In 2007, the 1966 Packers were ranked as the 6th greatest Super Bowl champions on the NFL Network's documentary series America's Game: The Super Bowl Champions.

1978 Buffalo Bills season

The 1978 Buffalo Bills season was the 19th season for the club and its ninth in the National Football League. The Bills were coming off a season in which they only won three games, making 1978 a slight improvement.

Head coach Chuck Knox began his first season with the team, having coached the Los Angeles Rams for the previous five seasons. It was also Buffalo's first season after the departure of star running back O.J. Simpson, who had left for San Francisco in the offseason.

The Bills offense acquired a pair of weapons for quarterback Joe Ferguson: wide receiver Frank Lewis, who had spent the previous 7 seasons in Pittsburgh, and rookie running back Terry Miller, who ended the season with over 1,000 yards.The 1978 Bills' run defense allowed an NFL record 3,228 rushing yards; the 677 rushing attempts the Bills faced in 1978 is also an NFL record. Oddly, the Bills were first in the league in yards allowed on pass defense, giving up only 1,960 yards through the air.

1995 Buffalo Bills season

The 1995 Buffalo Bills season was the 36th season for the club and its 26th in the National Football League.

Bob Monnett

Robert C. Monnett (February 27, 1910 – August 2, 1978) was a professional American football player who played halfback for six seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1973.

Charley Brock

Charles Jacob "Charley" Brock (March 15, 1916 – May 25, 1987) was an American football center and linebacker.

Elijah Pitts Award

The Elijah Pitts Award annual award is presented by the Conway Athletic Award Commission honoring lifetime achievement to Conway, Arkansas athletics. It is named in honor of Conway native Elijah Pitts.

Elijah Pitts was an American football halfback in the NFL for the Green Bay Packers, the Los Angeles Rams, and the New Orleans Saints. He attended high school in Conway, Arkansas at the segregated Pine Street High School. He played college football at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas. Pitts scored two touchdowns in the original Super Bowl. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1979. After his playing career ended, Pitts was an assistant coach for 25 years, mostly with the Buffalo Bills, coaching in all four of the Bills' Super Bowl appearances in the early 90s. In October 1997, while still the Bills' assistant head coach, Pitts was diagnosed with stomach cancer, which claimed his life nine months later at the age of 60.

Eugene Pitt

Eugene Sampson Pitt (November 6, 1937 – June 29, 2018) was an American musician and the founding member of The Jive Five. He formed a group with some school friends in 1954 called the Genies, in which he was the lead singer. There were no recordings from this group.

In 1959 he, together with Jerome Hanna, Richard Harris, Norman Johnson, and Billy Prophet formed The Jive Five. Among their classic doo-wop recordings, released on Beltone Records, were "My True Story", "Never, Never", and "What Time Is It?". In 1985, they sang doo wop on the American TV Cable Nickelodeon. Pitt and The Jive Five were introduced to New York cable TV branding consultants Fred Seibert and Alan Goodman by his latest producer, Ambient Sound's Marty Pekar. Together, they embarked on an almost ten-year relationship, creating and singing the a cappella signature sound of the American children's television network Nickelodeon. Terry Stewart, President & CEO of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, called Pitt "the most underrated soul singer in America". Eugene's cousin, Elijah Pitts, was an NFL running back and long-time assistant coach.Eugene Sampson Pitt died at the age of 80 on June 29, 2018.

Gerry Ellis

Gerry Ellis (born November 12, 1957

in Columbia, Missouri) is a former professional American football player who played running back for seven seasons for the Green Bay Packers.

Hank Bruder

Henry George "Hank" Bruder Jr. (November 22, 1907 – June 29, 1970) was an American football player in the National Football League. He played nine years with the Green Bay Packers from 1931 to 1939 and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1972. Bruder attended Northwestern University, where he was a member of the Delta Upsilon Fraternity.He was part of the offensive line that blocked for Pro Football Hall of Fame back Johnny "Blood" McNally.

Hank Gremminger

Charles Henry "Hank" Gremminger (September 1, 1933 – November 2, 2001) was an American football player, a defensive back in the National Football League for eleven seasons. He played ten seasons for the Green Bay Packers (1956–1965) and one for the Los Angeles Rams in 1966.

Jesse Whittenton

Urshell James "Jesse" Whittenton (May 9, 1934 – May 21, 2012) was an American football player who played nine seasons in the NFL, mainly for the Green Bay Packers.

Whittenton also played on the Senior PGA Tour in the late 1980s. His best finish was T-21 at the 1989 Showdown Classic.

John Martinkovic

John George Martinkovic (February 4, 1927 – February 8, 2018) was an American football defensive lineman in the National Football League for the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants. He played college football and basketball at Xavier University and was drafted in the sixth round of the 1951 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins.

Johnnie Gray

Johnnie Lee Gray (born December 18, 1953) is an American retired professional football player. Gray was a safety in the National Football League with the Green Bay Packers.

Nate Barragar

Nathan Robert Barragar (June 3, 1907 – August 10, 1985) was an American collegiate and professional football player.

Pete Tinsley

Elijah Pope "Pete" Tinsley (March 16, 1913 – May 11, 1995) was a professional football player, born in Sumter, South Carolina, who played guard, defense and offense for eight seasons for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1979.

Ron Pitts

Ronald Dwayne Pitts (born October 14, 1962) is a former professional American football player and current sportscaster. He played cornerback in the National Football League for the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers, and played college football at UCLA.Pitts has worked as a sportscaster and entertainment reporter, and currently works for CBS Sports Network on its college football coverage as a fill-in play-by-play announcer, and as a co-host for the syndicated news magazine OK!TV.

Super Bowl I

The first AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional American football, known retroactively as Super Bowl I and referred to in some contemporaneous reports, including the game's radio broadcast, as the Super Bowl, was played on January 15, 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The National Football League (NFL) champion Green Bay Packers defeated the American Football League (AFL) champion Kansas City Chiefs by the score of 35–10.

Coming into this game, considerable animosity existed between the AFL and NFL, thus the teams representing the two rival leagues (Kansas City and Green Bay, respectively) felt pressure to win. The Chiefs posted an 11–2–1 record during the 1966 AFL season, and defeated the Buffalo Bills 31–7, in the AFL Championship Game. The Packers finished the 1966 NFL season at 12–2, and defeated the Dallas Cowboys 34–27 in the NFL Championship Game. Still, many sports writers and fans believed any team in the older NFL was vastly superior to any club in the upstart AFL, and so expected Green Bay would blow out Kansas City.The first half of Super Bowl I was competitive, as the Chiefs outgained the Packers in total yards, 181–164, to come within 14–10 at halftime. Early in the 3rd quarter, Green Bay safety Willie Wood intercepted a pass and returned it 50 yards to the 5-yard line. The turnover sparked the Packers to score 21 unanswered points in the second half. Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns, with 1 interception, was named MVP.

It remains the only Super Bowl to have been simulcast in the United States by two networks. NBC had the rights to nationally televise AFL games, while CBS held the rights to broadcast NFL games; both networks were allowed to televise the game. The 1st Super Bowl's entertainment consisted of college marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling State University, instead of featuring popular singers and musicians as in later Super Bowls.

Whitey Woodin

Howard Lee "Whitey" Woodin (January 29, 1894 – February 7, 1974) was an American football player. He played with the Racine Legion and the Green Bay Packers and was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 1973. After retiring from football, Woodin remained in Green Bay and worked for many years at Falls Power and Paper Company.

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