top of page

'Little' Joe Washington

Born: Sept. 24, 1953 in Port Arthur, Texas

Star running back, "Little Joe" Washington at 5'9", attended Lincoln High School in Port Arthur, where he was the class President.  His father Joe Washington, Sr., was the head coach.  With his brother Ken at quarterback, the Washingtons led Lincoln to an unbeaten regular season in 1971. Their biggest win coming against Port Neches-Groves, and their All-American running back Jeff Bergeron. Although Little Joe grew up a UT fan (he used to salute when Darrel Royal's TV show aired), his high-school sweetheart attended Texas Women's University in Denton, so Joe opted to play for the Oklahoma Sooners. He has also stated that he knew Darrell Royal wouldn't let him wear his silver shoes. 

Called "my greatest player" by Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer during his induction to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, Washington showed he was something special from the very start. During his first scrimmage in 1972, Joe's first carry was for an 80-yard touchdown. That year, he ran for 630 yards - - all as a ball carrier from scrimmage. In 1973 he rushed for 1,173 yards.


Following his junior year, Washington made every All-America team; AP, UPI, NEA, Football Writers, Walter Camp Foundation, Sporting News, and Football News. He rushed for 1,321 yards, ran returns for 512 yards, and scored 14 touchdowns. He was the Pigskin Club's Player of the Year and came in third for the Heisman Trophy. As a collegiate athlete, Washington's finest day came on October 19, 1974, in a game against Colorado. He rushed for 211 yards in 19 carries (at 11.6 yards per carry) and scored four touchdowns. Washington was a two-time first-team All-American, and also finished fifth in the Heisman balloting his Senior year. His Oklahoma Sooners teams were National Champions in 1974 and 1975.


Moving to the NFL, "Little Joe" was drafted by the San Diego Chargers in 1976 as the fourth overall pick. He was traded to the Baltimore Colts in 1978, where he stayed through the 1980 season. In 1979 he led the NFL in receiving with 82 catches and made the pro-bowl.


He then played for the Washington Redskins from 1981 through 1984. In his most memorable game, before a national audience on Monday night, Washington threw for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass, and returned a kickoff for 90 yards with a minute and a half left in the game to give his team the lead-all in the fourth quarter. Howard Cosell proclaimed it one of the finest Monday night performances ever. 


He remains the only NFL player to have ever accomplished this feat in a single game.  He is the only player in the team’s history to lead in both rushing and receiving in the same year.  In 1982, he and his Washington team became Superbowl Champions. He retired in 1985 after spending one season with the Atlanta Falcons.


“Little Joe” Washington is in the College Football Hall of Fame, and is also enshrined in the Museum of the Gulf Coast Hall of Fame.  He is the author of the book, The 7 Secrets of the Silver Shoes.

bottom of page