Hall of Fame DE Claude Humphrey Dies at Age 77

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVDecember 4, 2021

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 07:  Former Atlanta Falcons player Claude Humphrey celebrates his NFL Hall of Fame induction during half time of the game between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on September 7, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Hall of Fame defensive end Claude Humphrey, best known for playing for the Atlanta Falcons from 1968 to 1978, died Friday at the age of 77.

NFL.com's Michael Baca posted the following statement from Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter regarding Humphrey's passing:

"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Claude Humphrey. Known as a hard worker and a reliable teammate, Humphrey was always willing to help the team out wherever needed and knew success was achieved collectively. His humble spirit guided him on and off the field. Our thoughts and prayers are with Claude's family during this difficult time. The Hall of Fame will forever guard his legacy. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Claude's memory."

Humphrey was among the most feared pass-rushers of his generation and played 13 seasons in the NFL—10 with the Falcons and three with the Philadelphia Eagles.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014 as part of the senior ballot after previously being a finalist on the regular ballot in 2003, 2005 and 2006.

After starring collegiately at Tennessee State, the Memphis, Tennessee, native was the No. 3 overall pick in the 1968 NFL draft by Atlanta.

That selection paid immediate dividends for the Falcons, as Humphrey was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and went on to be named a Pro Bowler six times and a five-time First Team All-Pro selection.

Sacks did not become an official stat until 1982, which was the first year of Humphrey's retirement. Humphrey unofficially had 130 sacks in his career, however, which would place him 24th on the NFL's all-time list.

He unofficially had 11.5 sacks as a rookie and would have recorded nine double-digit-sack seasons in his career if it had been an official stat.

That included a career-high 15.5 with the Eagles in 1980, which was the second-to-last season of his career.

Humphrey never won a championship in the NFL, but he did help the Eagles reach Super Bowl XV at the conclusion of the 1980 season, which they lost 27-10 to the Oakland Raiders.

Of all players who started their careers in the 1970s or earlier, Humphrey has the eighth-most unofficial sacks in NFL history, making him one of the premier pass-rushers of the pre-sack era.