Charlottesville, VA -
Recognized as one of the greatest players in Virginia football history, Bill Dudley passed away Thursday at his home in Lynchburg. Dudley, a native of Bluefield, Va., was 88 years old.
"Everyone associated with the University of Virginia and our athletics programs is saddened by the passing of Bill Dudley," said UVa athletics director Craig Littlepage. "His accomplishments as both a college and professional athlete are well documented by the various awards he earned during his playing career. Stated succinctly, Bill Dudley was one of the all-time greats in college and pro football.
"Most of all, Bill Dudley truly distinguished himself in the way he was an ambassador for the University of Virginia throughout his life. There will never be a better representative of the University than "Bullet" Bill Dudley. We all share the sorrow and the loss felt by members of Bill's family."
Dudley lettered at Virginia from 1939-1941 and capped his incredible career by being named the winner of the Maxwell Trophy in 1941 as the nation's top player. During his senior campaign, as a 19-year-old halfback, he led the nation in scoring (134 points), touchdowns (18) and all-purpose yards (1675). Voted a consensus All-American, he was the first Cavalier player to earn that distinction. Known as a great runner, passer, kicker and defensive player, he finished fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy that year.
He was a first-round draft pick of the National Football League's Pittsburgh Steelers in 1942 and enjoyed a nine-year career in professional football. He played with Pittsburgh in 1942 and from 1945-46, with the Detroit Lions from 1947-1949 and the Washington Redskins from 1950-1951 and 1953. His career was interrupted in 1943 and 1944 when he served with the Army Air Corps during World War II.
Dudley was a standout player as a professional. He earned all-league honors his rookie season and was tabbed the league's Most Valuable Player in 1946. That year he led the NFL in rushing, punt returns, interceptions and lateral passes attempted. He was the first player to lead the league in four different statistical categories. Dudley was named to three Pro Bowls and six times was a first- or second-team all-NFL selection.
In 1956 Dudley became the first Virginia player inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Exactly 10 years later he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Dudley became the first Virginia player to have his uniform number (35) retired.
Since 1993 The Bill Dudley Scholarship Foundation has awarded scholarships to Richmond-area high school senior football players. The winners must distinguish themselves based on academic performance, extra-curricular and community activities, financial need and athletic achievement.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch and Touchdown Club of Richmond partner to honor the top Division I football player in the Commonwealth of Virginia each year by presenting The Dudley Award, named in Bill Dudley's honor. The inaugural winner in 1990 was Virginia quarterback Shawn Moore, currently the wide receivers coach at Virginia. Dudley was named to the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame in 1972.
After retiring from professional football, Dudley worked in the insurance business in Lynchburg. He also served four two-year terms in the Virginia House of Representatives during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
The Dudley family has announced the viewing will take place Sunday from 3-5 p.m. at the Diuguid Funeral Home located in Lynchburg on 811 Wiggington Road. The funeral will take place Monday at 11 a.m. in Lynchburg at Holy Cross Catholic Church at 715 Clay Street. A reception will take place immediately following the service at the church.