Former Atlanta Falcons defensive end Claude Humphrey will become the second Falcon player to earn the distinction of being a Hall of Famer, as the league announced that Humphrey is part of the 2014 class of players to be inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Humphrey joins cornerback Deion Sanders, who was inducted in 2011, as the only pair of former Falcon players to earn a bust in Canton.
Humphrey joins fellow defensive end and former New York Giant Michael Strahan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Derrick Brooks, Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders punter Ray Guy, Seattle Seahawks offensive tackle Walter Jones, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Andre Reed, and Arizona Cardinals/St. Louis Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams as part of the 2014 class. Humphrey is alongside Guy as the two members elected by the senior committee
Humphrey was a first-round pick by the Falcons in 1968 out of Tennessee State. He made an impact right away, earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. In 1970, he earned the first of six trips to the Pro Bowl, and the following year earned his first of five first-team All Pro honors. Despite individual success, Humphrey did not find the team success he was looking for and promptly retired after the 1978 season. Up until then, he had only been on two Falcon teams in eleven years that finished the year with a winning record. But following his retirement, Humphrey was convinced to reenter the league and was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles where he played the final three seasons of his career before permanently retiring after 1981. Sacks did not become an official statistic until 1982, but Humphrey is credited with 122 career sacks. 94.5 of those came in a Falcon uniform, which still stands as the team’s all-time benchmark.
I mused on Humphrey’s chances of getting into the Hall several years ago, projecting that he might get voted in circa 2013. A lucky guess on my part.