About Bill Dudley

 

William "Bullet Bill" Dudley, a Bluefield, VA native, had a Hall of Fame football career, but this scholarship reflects his lifelong  devotion to education.

 

An education major at Virginia, he never forgot what college scholarships did for both himself and his brother, Jim, while growing up in Depression-era Bluefied.

 

Bill left his mark. While in  the Virginia legislature, he was a patron of the bill that launched Virginia's community college building program under Gov. Mills Godwin.

 

In any All-Star lineup

 

Bill was always included by Grantland Rice in any all-time, all-star college and pro football lineup.

 

Deemed "too light" when he first went out for football, Bill starred for the University of Virginia (UVA) as a ball-carrier, passer, punter and place-kicker.

 

He was 16 when given a scholarship to Virginia and 19 when he cemented his status as perhaps the greatest athlete in school history. As a senior in 1941, he had a hand in 206 of the 279 points the team scored on its way to an 8-1 record.

 

He was a consensus All-American selection at UVA where his jersey was later retired.

 

Bill was the No. 1 overall draft choice of the Steelers in 1942. He played three seasons with Pittsburgh, a stay interrupted in 1943 and 1944 by Army service in World War II. He later played three years with the Detroit Lions and three with the Redskins, ending with his retirement in 1953.

 

An MVP wherever he went

 

In his senior year at Virginia, he won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award given to the top player in national collegiate competition.

 

In the Air Corps, he was named MVP on the armed services team.

 

In pro football, he was again named MVP. In his first year with the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was named Rookie of the Year after leading the league in rushing. In 1946 he was the MVP in the National Football League (NFL) winning the Joe Carr Memorial Award.

 

Bill amassed 8,157 yards rushing; scored 484 points and intercepted 23 passes in his pro career.

 

In 1966, "Bullett" Bill Dudley was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. He had already carved himself a niche in the College Football Hall of Fame.

 

Born on Christmas Eve in 1921, William McGarvey Dudley weighed only 150 pounds when he graduated from Graham High.  His competitive fire — honed on the sandlot fields of Bluefield — more than compensated for his lack of bulk or height.

 

“Every time I went on the football field," he said, “I felt I had something to prove."

 

His small frame (5-10, 175) belied his productivity. Bill nearly missed the opening of his first training camp with the Steelers because the guard at the gate didn't believe he was a football player. The coaches had to let him in.

 

"Oh, Bill Dudley was a hell of a great player," said the late Sammy Baugh, once a rival and later a teammate on the Washington Redskins. “We always wondered how in the hell he gained as much yardage as he did. But he had that instinct. He would do things that always amazed me — how he could get out of trouble. I admired him when we played against him. I was happy as hell when we got him."

 

A public and private career after football

 

After his playing career,  Bill coached for several years on the college and professional levels before entering the insurance business in Lynchburg with his brother, Jim.

 

He spent eight years in the state’s House of Delegates from 1966-74 and was a member of U.Va.’s Board of Visitors as well as a fixture on Saturdays in Scott Stadium. He gave his time and his name to many philanthropic and civic organizations.

 

His devotion to education was only exceeded by his devotion to family.

 

Bill passed away in 2010 at the age of 86 in Lynchburg, Virginia.

 

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