Football Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey dies aged 77

ATLANTA – Pro Football Hall of Famer Claude Humphrey, one of the NFL’s most feared cross-players during the 1970s with the Atlanta Falcons, has died aged 77.

Humphrey, who also achieved the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles, died unexpectedly in Atlanta Friday night, according to the Hall of Fame, which was informed of his daughter’s death. No cause has been given.

Humphrey was the Falcons’ overall #3 pick outside of Tennessee State in 1968 and played 11 years with the team, earning the last of six Pro Bowl appearances as a member of the “Grits” defence. Blitz” made famous in 1977.

He moved to the Eagles in 1979 and served as a designated pass athlete on the 1980 team that achieved the Super Bowl.

Humphrey retired after the 1981 season, before sacks became the official stats, but he was credited with 130 bags in 13 seasons (he missed the whole 1975 season to recover from a knee injury).


Humphrey was introduced in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014.

“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Claude Humphrey,” said Jim Porter, Hall of Fame President. common achievements have been achieved. His humble spirit guided him on and off the pitch. “

The flag of the Hall of Fame outside the museum in Canton, Ohio, will be flown at half-staff in honor of Humphrey, Porter added.

Humphrey has played on losing teams for most of his career in Atlanta, which may have contributed to the 33-year wait before he was finally selected to the Hall of Fame.

He certainly delivers worthy numbers as an active competitive athlete who has had nine doubles overs in his career. Humphrey also has two interceptions, an awkward recovery for a ground touch and two safes.


As the NFL’s defensive rookie in 1958, he won the first team All-Pro title five times.

In 1977, Humphrey was a key player in the defence, scoring just 129 points – the fewest the NFL ever had in a 14-game season. But the team played offensively and only finished 7-7, missing the playoffs.

“He was a great athlete,” said longtime Falcons curator Greg Brezina, who joined the team the same year as Humphrey. “One of the greatest things about him is his winning attitude. He’s a team player and, of course, he’s probably one of the best defensive players out there. It’s a shame he’s played for so long with a team that hasn’t won a lot. He didn’t get the recognition.”

Humphrey, who is only the second Falcons player after Deion Sanders to be elected to the Hall of Fame, insists he has a lot more to offer than he is credited with.

“Before they started keeping records of the sacks, man, I got the left and right sacks,” he said. “For my part, I am not very interested in taking the sack. Back then a sack was just a pair of underwear. Handling a quarterback or handling a ball carrier in a jog is the same. “


Humphrey temporarily retired after four games in 1978 – missing his only chance in the knockout round against the Falcons. He returned to the Eagles and finally reached the Super Bowl in the 1980 season, when he had 14 1/2 bags.

The Eagles were favored to lose to the Raiders 27-10, but Humphrey got his long-awaited opportunity to play in his biggest game after so many failed seasons in Atlanta.

“It was the most exciting thing that could ever happen to me,” he said in a 2014 interview. “I came to Philadelphia to try to be on a winning team and experience what I went through when attended college in the State of Tennessee. We were (HBCU) national champions two years in a row. ”

The Falcons had just two winning seasons before Humphrey walked out of their first playoff game.

“In Atlanta, I was never used to losing,” said Humphrey. “It made me play harder. I used to say to myself, ‘Well, if we lose the game, the person in line ahead of me won’t have anything to get excited about. When he sees the movie, he won’t like what he sees of himself. I’m going to go out there and try to knock him down. ‘ That’s the only thing that keeps me motivated.”


Humphrey was a finalist for the Hall of Fame in 2003, 2005 and 2006, but failed each time. He was finally elected as a senior candidate in February 2014.

“I’m not happy it took so long,” he said before the introduction, “but I’m glad I got in when I could smell the flowers.”


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