New York Jets Throw Back Thursday: Larry Grantham
In my latest Throw Back Thursday article, I bring to fans the memories of outside linebacker Larry Grantham. Prior to the New York Jets being called the Jets and even before they were an NFL football team, the Jets were known as the New York Titans. They played their initial games at the Old Polo Grounds as for now, I’d like to take a look at one of my childhood Jet favorites.
Now I’m sure there are of few of you who are scratching your heads right now and muttering to yourself the phrase who the heck is this guy. Fear not, you may not be old enough to have seen him play, but I’m here to introduce you to one of the “forgotten players” of an era long gone.
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Grantham was drafted by the Titans in the first round of the very first AFL Draft in 1960. For those not in the know, prior to the NFL and AFL merger, two separate drafts were held. Grantham was selected in the 15th round of the NFL Draft by the then Baltimore Colts. Grantham signed with the Titans to continue his football career.
Grantham played his entire thirteen year career with the Titans and later the Jets. He measured out at 6’0″/210 lbs. but played much larger throughout his career. It was an illustrious career, culminating in Grantham’s induction into the Jet “Ring Of Honor” in 2011. Grantham was a fierce competitor and played his position with an aggressive streak. He quickly became a fan favorite at Shea Stadium and will be long remembered for his contributions to the Jet franchise.
During his playing career, Grantham achieved many accolades including being voted the Jets’ MVP in 1971. He played in the only Super Bowl appearance of the Jets and was credited with three solo tackles and two pass defenses. Grantham wore No. 60 for his entire Jet career and appeared in five AFL Pro Bowl games before the merger.
Grantham was a complete linebacker for the Jets. He was stout against the run but was just as comfortable dropping back into coverage. To that end Grantham ended his football career with 24 interceptions and scored three defensive touchdowns. When the NFL and AFL merged, Grantham was honored with a second team selection to the AFL all-time team.
Gratham struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction for many years. He later defeated his demons and worked hard to publicize the dangers of drugs and alcohol. In retirement, Grantham had many medical problems and the hospital bills mounted causing financial difficulties.
Things got so bad for Grantham that he put his Super Bowl III ring up for auction in hopes of paying the ever mounting hospital bills. The ring was rescued from auction and fund raisers were held to aid paying the bills.
For me, I’ll always remember Grantham as the signal caller for the Jets’ defense in Super Bowl III. He played smart, hard hitting and aggressive football. He was smash mouth in an era when that term was taken literally at times. He surely “Played Like A Jet”, and in hindsight, he might have even set the bar for what that phrase means to this very day.
Thanks for traveling back to take a look at Larry Grantham with us. Leave us a comment below if you have memories of his game. Let’s Talk Jet Football!
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