William ‘Bullet Bill’ Dudley (far left, carrying the ball) has often been called the University of Virginia’s greatest football player and the greatest football player to come out of the State of Virginia.  He died Thursday, at the age of 88 in Lynchburg. 

 Dudley grew up in Bluefield, Virginia and played for Graham  High School.  He went to UVA at age 16 on a scholarship and soon became a star (see Times Dispatch).  After UVA, he was drafted in the 1942 NFL draft as first pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers.  WWII interrupted his football career but following the war, he returned to Pittsburgh for 9 NFL seasons.

Bill Dudley went in to the insurance business in Lynchburg.  He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1966.  He also served in the General Assembly for 4 terms and was known as being  outspoken and direct.  Bill Dudley suffered  a stroke at the end of January and died at home February 4, 2010, in the arms of his wife, Libba.  Bradley and Libba celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary in July.

Certainly Bullet Bill Dudley will be remembered at some point during the Super Bowl tomorrow.  He was a native Virginian and one we can all be proud of.  This picture and more information about Dudley can be found in the Richmond Times Dispatch.   

This picture is especially important to me.  Imagine looking at it and seeing Old # 66 along side Bullet Bill Dudley.  # 66 is quarterback Walt Smith, who was my dad.  Old football players never die, they just fade away….

Good Old Song

That Good Old Song of Wahoowa,
We’ll sing it o’er and o’er.
It cheers our heart and warms the blood
To hear them shout and roar.
We come from old Virginia,
Where all is bright and gay.
Let’s all join hands and give a yell
For dear old UVa.

What though the tide of years may roll
And drift us far apart,
For Alma Mater still there’ll be
A place in ev’ry heart.
In college days we’ll sing her praise,
And so, when far away,
In memory we still shall be
At the dear old UVa.    

(tune Auld Lang Syne)

Further reading about Bullet Bill Dudley

Richmond Times Dispatch

Bill Dudley Wikipedia

8 Thoughts to “Good-bye to Gridiron Great William ‘Bullet Bill’ Dudley”

  1. Wolverine

    Absolutely beautiful thread, Moon-howler. What a great memory.

  2. NoVA Scout

    Many thanks for posting that. This guy was remarkable. I came across his obit in one of them old-fashioned newspaper things recently and was so glad I had not missed it.

  3. kelly3406

    Interesting tidbits like these are what make this blog so worthwhile. Without your post, I would have completely missed this. Thanks for taking the time to clue us in, MH.

  4. I found out tonight from my brother that he had often thought about calling Mr. Dudley to ask him what he remembered of our father. He didn’t do it. You know, the road to hell being paved with good intentions. I told my brother, well too late now. My brother had sent me the article.

    Dudley’s death certainly marks the passing of an era, both for football and for me, on a personal note.

  5. Oh, and you all are very welcome. I guess this is a ‘guy sort of thread’, but certainly on Super Bowl Weekend, notable that such a great Virginia football player has passed on.

  6. Poor Richard

    A really great player and story. Reminds me of the way UNC folks, of almost the
    same period, speak of Charlie “Choo-Choo” Justice.

  7. Twinad

    If this was Facebook, I would click “like”. Well done, MH, and how cool is that to see your father playing with an NFL legend? Nice.

  8. Wolverine

    As a genealogist and family historian, one of my principal goals has been to try to overcome as much as I can the fact that memories fade and are eventually erased forever. Those who came before often wind up being just names and dates on old tombstones, largely unknown even to their direct descendants. I really don’t have to tell you this, Moon-howler, but that photo is a rare treasure, especially because it is an “action” picture and not just an old, formal portrait. I assume that you have noted on the back of it the relevant details about the people in it and the circumstances. Too often, I have come across such photos and have had to ask “Who is that? When and where was the picture taken?”

    There is an old genealogy adage: “We are who we were.” Some day in the far future, one of Moon-howler’s own descendants may find that photograph, read the details, on the back, and realize that “old #66” was an integral part of who he or she is. I recall a young nephew reading the unpublished biography I had written of his grandfather and made available at the old gentleman’s funeral some years ago — he died at age 95. After reading through the biography and looking at the old photographs, the nephew raised his head and said: “This is amazing. I never realized how many different things grandpa had done in his life.” Just a statement like that makes all the research worth it.

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