ATLANTA – Pro Football Hall of Famer and Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor Member Claude Humphrey passed away Friday night at the age of 77.
Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014 following a 13-year NFL career, Humphrey was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor in 2008 and the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1988.
"We are saddened by the passing of Claude Humphrey and send our prayers out for his family and friends in this difficult time," said Arthur M. Blank, Atlanta Falcons owner and chairman. "Claude made an indelible impression on so many from Memphis to the Falcons and across the NFL with his leadership and tenacious approach on the field. His Falcons legacy was cemented as a forever memory with induction into our Ring of Honor and he will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace."
Humphrey was born on June 29, 1944 in Memphis, Tenn., and attended Lester High School before becoming an All-American defensive lineman at Tennessee State University. He led the Big Blue Tigers to a 35-3-1 record over three seasons from 1965-67.
Humphrey was selected by the Falcons with the third overall pick in the 1968 AFL/NFL Draft and the 6-foot-4, 252-pound defensive end made an immediate impact in Atlanta, earning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1968.
In 10 seasons with the Falcons, Humphrey earned All-NFL or All-Pro honors eight times, was named All-NFC seven times and was selected to play in six Pro Bowls.
Although it didn't become an official NFL statistic until after he retired, Humphrey is credited with 130 career sacks and led his team in sacks in nine of his 13 seasons in the National Football League.