We lost a good one today. Pro Football Hall of Fame member and Atlanta Falcons legend Claude Humphrey has passed away at age 77. Humphrey played defensive end for the Falcons from 1968-1978, and holds the unofficial record of most sacks in franchise history with 99.5.
The word “legend” gets thrown around a lot, but in Falcons lore we have very few players who unquestionably deserved the title. Humphrey is definitely one of them. With the 3rd overall pick in the 1968 AFL/NFL Draft, the Falcons selected Humphrey. He joined the team during their 3rd season in franchise history, and the team went 2-12. Regardless, Humphrey had a solid season which earned him the honor of being the league’s Rookie of the Year.
Humphrey would go on to be named a First-team All-Pro five times, and a Second-team All-Pro three times. From 1970-1974, and in 1977 he was named to the NFL Pro Bowl. In 1976, he was named to the Second-Team All-NFC for having an unofficial 15 sacks. Humphrey anchored the Falcons legendary “Gritz Blitz” which set a 14-game record in 1977 for allowing only 129 total points.
In his post-football life, Humphrey was inducted into the Georgia Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Hall of Fame. His jersey number has also been retired at both Lester High School and Tennessee State University. In 2008, Humphrey joined fellow Falcons’ great Mike Kenn in entering the Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor. After being a finalist in 2003, 2005, 2006 and a senior finalist in 2009, Claude Humphrey was finally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014 where he will live forever.
I had the rare opportunity to interview Humphrey last year, and it’s something I will always cherish. The man was nothing but humble, and the true definition of a legend. All of our thoughts and prayers are with Claudia and the rest of the Humphrey family during this difficult time.