Terdell Middleton, who became just the fourth rusher in Green Bay Packers history to top the 1,000-yard mark in a season when he turned the trick in 1978, reportedly died Friday in Memphis, Tenn. He would have turned 60 on Wednesday.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, citing a report in the Memphis Commercial Appeal, no cause of death was given.
Middleton was a third-round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1977 NFL Draft and was traded to the Packers late in the preseason in exchange for defensive back Perry Smith.
After getting just 35 carries for 97 yards as a rookie, Middleton emerged as the starter at tailback in 1978 and rushed for 1,116 yards and 11 touchdowns while also catching 34 passes for 332 yards and a score.
Middleton was limited by injuries in 1979 to just 495 yards and a 3.8-yard per carry average and followed that with seasons of 155 and 181 yards in 1980 and 1981 as a backup.
The Packers waived Middleton late in training camp in 1982 and he was claimed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he spent two seasons as a seldom-used reserve.
Released after the 1983 season, Middleton spent a short time with the USFL’s Memphis Showboats—where he was a teammate of future Packer Reggie White—rushing for 46 yards on 18 carries before he was waived and retired from football.
“I’ll tell you what, the guy had an incredible year in 1978,” said Larry McCarren, who was the center on the 1978 Packer squad. “He could run a play we called ‘48’ and ’49 belly’ like nobody’s business. Just went crazy that season. A good guy, too.”
Middleton later worked 12 years as a firefighter.
He played collegiately at Memphis State, now the University of Memphis, and ranks in the school’s top 10 with 1,970 career rushing yards.
In five seasons with Green Bay, Middleton had 2,044 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground and caught 78 passes for 659 yards and three scores. He also returned a kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs as a rookie in 1977.
Middleton was born in Memphis April 8, 1955, and graduated from South Side High School in the city.
His 2,044 rushing yards rank 18th in Packer history, while his 1,116-yard season in 1978 is the 15th-best single-season total in team annals.