In his day and age, Don Floyd was the best defensive end in football.
Midlothian honored the most famous athlete to ever don a Panther jersey Friday night by naming the field at the Midlothian Multipurpose Stadium, Don Floyd Field.
Family and friends of Floyd stepped to the 50-yard-line at halftime of the football game with Waxahachie to hear Midlothian Independent School District Board President Duke Burge read a proclamation naming the turf Don Floyd Field and the road leading to the MISD stadium Don Floyd Drive.
“When he stepped on the football field, he could do it all,” said Floyd’s oldest brother Gilbert Floyd. “Everybody that met him off the field loved him. Guys that faced him on the field worried about him.”
Floyd’s youngest brother, Fred Floyd, said their father died when Fred was 5-years-old.
“Don was like a father to me and did so much for our family,” said Fred. “He got me my first job, helped me study and made sure I went to college. I still miss him so much and wish he was here tonight to see this.”
Born in Abilene on July 10, 1938, Floyd was raised in Midlothian. It was in the sixth grade that he first put on a blue-and-white Panther football uniform.
Floyd was named All-District at Midlothian High School in both 1954 and 1955. He was the first Midlothian athlete to play in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Football Game.
Floyd went on to earn an athletic scholarship at Texas Christian University and was named to the All-Southwestern Conference Freshman Team his first year on campus. He would be named All-Southwestern Conference in 1957, 1958 and 1959. He was also named an All-American in 1958 and 1959.
The wiry defensive end stood 6-foot, 4-inches tall and tipped the scales at 242-pounds.
He was a draft choice of the American Football League’s Houston Oilers in 1960, the league’s first year, and was selected as a defensive end on the American Football League All-League team in 1961 and 1962, and an AFL Eastern Division All-Star in 1963.
In the early 1960s, Floyd was among the best, using a combination of strength and speed to establish a presence to be accounted for by the opposition on every play.
In 1962 Floyd would intercept four passes for a total of 58 yards and a touchdown.
He played in four American Football League Championships, helping the Oilers win the league’s first two titles in 1960 and 1961. Don Floyd is on the Oilers’ All-Time Team.
Floyd retired from football and became general manager of A.C. International Equipment in Houston.
Floyd died March 9, 1980, of an apparent heart attack while traveling between Raymondville and Harlingen. He was 41.
Friday’s ceremony was not the first recognition of Floyd by MISD.
The old football field on George Hopper Road is called Don Floyd Stadium and a white cement monument just south of the field bears a bronze plaque listing Floyd’s accomplishments.
At one time the district sought to tear down the stadium and build ball fields in that space. Community members voiced displeasure with that idea and a bond issue to finance the changes was defeated at the ballot box.
The field is currently used as a practice field for a variety of sports.