Claude (Buddy) Young was killed in a weekend car wreck in Texas and one of his biggest teammates on the old Baltimore Colts, Artie Donovan, put it just about right when he heard the news: "Buddy was a little man playing a big man's game and was all heart. He didn't know how to quit."
Young, 57, the NFL's director of player relations, was driving alone when his auto ran off I-20 and into a creekbed about 30 miles east of Dallas at around 2:25 a.m. Sunday. The accident was not discovered until 1:45 p.m., when a trucker noticed a car partially hidden by grass along the creek. An autopsy showed Young died of multiple injuries.
Fully grown at just 5 feet 4, Young came out of Chicago to the University of Illinois in 1944 and, as a freshman, tied Red Grange's Illini single-season record of 13 touchdowns. After a year in the Navy, Young led Illinois to the Big Ten title in 1946 and, with two touchdowns, was MVP of the 45-14 Rose Bowl victory over UCLA. The next summer, he was MVP of the College All-Stars who beat the Chicago Bears, 16-0, before 100,000 in Soldier Field. In 1968, he made the college football hall of fame.
Nine years in the pros, Young played with the New York Yankees of the All America Football Conference, then NFL with Yanks, Dallas Texans and, finally, the 1953-55 Colts. He gained 2,727 yards rushing, 2,711 receiving. He set the Baltimore record for a kickoff return, 104 yards, against Philadelphia in 1953. In 1956, he became the first Colt to have his jersey number (22) retired, and he joined the team's front office, in scouting and public relations. In 1964, the NFL made him the first black executive to be hired by a major sports league.
Buddy Young died on his way to Dallas to catch a flight home to New York. He had just been at Northwest Louisiana U., representing the NFL at a memorial service for Joe Delaney, the Kansas City Chiefs running back who drowned, a hero.