For the American basketball player, see Wee Willie Smith.
Wee Willie Smith
No. 0     
Tailback / Defensive back
Personal information
Date of birth: (1910-07-02)July 2, 1910
Place of birth: Lexington, Nebraska
Date of death: September 4, 1996(1996-09-04) (aged 86)
Place of death: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Career information
College: Idaho
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
* New York Giants ( 1934)
Career highlights and awards
* NFL champion (1934)
Stats at
Wee Willie Smith (American football)
AllegianceFlag of the United States.svg.png United States
Rank15px  Lieutenant Colonel
Battles/warsWorld War II, Korean War, Vietnam War

Willis Merton "Wee Willie" Smith (July 2, 1910 – September 4, 1996) was an American football back who played one season with the New York Giants of the National Football League.

High schoolEdit

Smith first enrolled at Lexington Senior High School in Lexington, Nebraska, transferred to Sheridan High School in Sheridan, Wyoming, and then to Boise High School in Boise, Idaho, where he graduated.[1]


Smith played college football at the University of Idaho in Moscow under head coach Leo Calland.[2][3] A three-year star at quarterback (19311933) in the Pacific Coast Conference,[4][5][6][7] his nickname was "Little Giant" while a Vandal.[8][9][10] Smith also played baseball, graduated in 1934 with a degree in education, and was a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.[11]

Professional footballEdit

File:Ny giants 1934.jpg

Smith played in nine games in the National Football League, starting one, for the New York Giants in 1934.[1][10] In the 17–7 win over Pittsburgh on October 21, Smith scored the final touchdown on a three-yard run to seal the win.[12][13] The following week, he scored a late touchdown on a 24-yard run in the 17–0 win over Philadelphia.[14][15]

The Giants, coached by Steve Owen, finished 8–5 in the regular season and won the Eastern Division. They met George Halas' undefeated Chicago Bears for a third time that season in the NFL championship game. The Bears had won the two regular season games in November and led 13–3 after three quarters on a frigid December 9, but the Giants scored four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to secure a 30–13 upset at the Polo Grounds for the league title,[16] in what was later known as the "Sneakers" game. Due to his small stature, Smith wore number zero and generated a considerable amount of interest in the press.[17]

In 1936, Smith played for the independent Los Angeles Bulldogs,[18] who played all their games at home at Gilmore Stadium.

After footballEdit

By 1937, he was out of football and back in northern Idaho, working as an area supervisor for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in Coeur d'Alene.[3]

He served as a training officer in the U.S. Army in World War II, and coached the football team at Fort Warren in Cheyenne, Wyoming.[19][20]

Personal lifeEdit

Smith was blind in one eye;[21] he died at age 86 in Albuquerque, New Mexico,[22] and is buried at the Santa Fe National Cemetery (section 4, site 8B).


  1. 1.0 1.1 "WILLIS SMITH". Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  2. "Idaho hopes for dry field today". Deseret News. Associated Press (Salt Lake City, Utah): p. 3, sports. October 28, 1933.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Wee Willie back on Idaho campus". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington): p. 14. August 23, 1937.
  4. "Idaho's Little Giant goes places". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington): p. 14. October 24, 1931.,5805044&hl=en.
  5. "Willis Smith, Idaho's Little Giant; is he All-American material?". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington): p. 16. November 17, 1931.
  6. "To boost Smith for All-Coast". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): p. 13. November 24, 1931.
  7. "Idaho smears Utah Aggies, 33-0". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press (Spokane, Washington): p. 10. November 25, 1932.
  8. "Football: 1932 season, vs. Utah State". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1933. p. 205.
  9. "Football: 1933 season". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1934. pp. 214–224.
  10. 10.0 10.1 ""Little Giant" going strong in tough professional ball". Idaho Argonaut ((University of Idaho, Moscow)): p. 1. October 26, 1934.
  11. "Seniors". Gem of the Mountains, University of Idaho yearbook. 1934. p. 55.
  12. "Strong brilliant as Bucs lose to Giants, 17 to 7". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press: p. 14. October 22, 1934.
  13. "Smith is star in Giant's win". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press (Spokane, Washington): p. 9. October 22, 1934.
  14. "Football games go as expected". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press (Spokane, Washington): p. 9. October 29, 1934.
  15. "Giants win 11 straight on home field 17 to 0". Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press: p. 5, part 2. October 29, 1934.
  16. Gannon, Pat (December 10, 1934). "Giants make spectacular finish to beat Bears for pro grid title". Milwaukee Journal: p. 2, part 2.
  17. McLemore, Henry (December 7, 1934). "Hank interview "Little Giant" Smith of Idaho". Eugene Register-Guard. United Press (Oregon): p. 12.
  18. "Willis Smith is star of pro football game". Spokesman-Review. Associated Press (Spokane, Washington): p. 10. November 23, 1936.
  19. "Tiny Colorado College leads Rocky Mountain grid teams". Reading Eagle. United Press (Pennsylvania): p. 12. September 11, 1943.
  20. "Flyers, victors over Broncs, want another game here". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington): p. 7. September 10, 1945.
  21. "Darren Sproles and the NFL’s all-time Mighty Mites". Archived from the original on October 24, 2015. Retrieved October 24, 2015.
  22. "'Little Giant' Willis Smith dead at 86". Free Lance-Star. Associated Press (Fredericksburg, Virginia): p. B11. September 7, 1996.

External linksEdit

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