Updated April 7, 2018 - 12:18 am
He was the greatest quarterback Las Vegas has produced, so David Humm’s life was celebrated in a sports arena with pep talks and a tailgate party.
Which, everybody agreed, was exactly the way “The Hummer” would have wanted it.
The former Bishop Gorman High and Nebraska star who spent 10 seasons as an NFL backup quarterback, most with his beloved Oakland (and Los Angeles) Raiders, died March 27 after battling multiple sclerosis for almost 30 years. He was 65. As 51s president Don Logan said in recounting a conversation with his longtime friend toward the end, David Humm was one tough (expletive-expletive).
Logan was one of six who spoke Friday at South Point Arena, joining the quarterback’s former high school and college coaches Frank Nails and Tom Osborne, Raiders owner Mark Davis and president Marc Badain, and South Point Arena general manager Steve Stallworth, one of Humm’s closest friends.
The equestrian arena was transformed into a magnificent shrine for Humm. Everything was done up in black and silver (the Raiders’ colors) with Nebraska scarlet and cream accents and a splash of Bishop Gorman blue and orange.
There was even a David Humm ice carving that he probably would have felt was a bit much — unless it was used to ice down a case of beer.
Pictures tell the story
Hall of Fame-sized photos and dozens of regular-sized ones depicted Humm in his football prime, and just as many showed him with surviving family members — younger brother Tom, with whom he was inseparable; sisters Cathy and Lori, who were always there for him, especially after he got sick; daughter Courtney, his only child, whom he loved more than life itself, and that’s saying a lot.
These were the poignant photos. Many showed David Humm in the wheelchair in which he spent the last 20 years of his life.
Say what you will about getting sacked by Richard Dent and Otis Wilson of the Super Bowl Bears, and having multiple teeth knocked out and cartilage torn in multiple knees. These were the photos that truly showed how brave and courageous The Hummer was.
There wasn’t one in which he wasn’t smiling.
“He was confined to the wheelchair, but he was never defined by it,” said Stallworth, who gave the last pep talk.
Osborne said David Humm was the best pure passer he coached at Nebraska, and recounted Humm leading the Huskers to Orange, Cotton and Sugar Bowl victories over Notre Dame, Texas and Florida.
“But I think the most memorable thing about Dave, the most defining thing, has not been his playing career but the last 25 years,” Osborne said. “When adversity hits, sometimes you get angry, you can get bitter, you can complain and say ‘Why me?’ But Dave never took that approach. He decided to choose what his response would be. And he chose an attitude of gratitude.
“I can’t tell you how many times I would call Dave, and sometime during the conversation he’d say, ‘Do I have a great life or what?’ ”
The original Las Vegas Raider
Davis told the audience that unlike his late father, it’s rare when he speaks in public, but that Al Davis would want people to know what David Humm was about, and then the son cited Humm’s career and what he meant to the Raiders in the way the father might have put it.
“If my dad was speaking, you’d be all goose-bumped and thinking David was going into the Hall of Fame right now,” Davis said before pointing toward the roof of South Point Arena. “That’s not the case, but he is going to a special team up there and I’m sure they’ve got some plans for him.
“What I’d like to say about David is that he had three love affairs: One was the city of Las Vegas, which he loved considerably. The Raider organization, which he loved unbelievably, and then family and friends.
“David is the original Las Vegas Raider.”
That would have been a good note on which to adjourn to the tailgate area to tell additional David Humm stories. But the last word must go to Nails, the quarterback’s coach at Bishop Gorman, the man who discovered him as a football prodigy. The Las Vegas prep coaching legend closed his remarks by sharing what The Hummer’s father, Clair, said when they were introduced.
“David’s feet are too big, and he’s too slow. But I think he’s going to make us all proud.”