The football world lost a legendary player of the New York Jets in Larry Grantham.
For those fans of the New York Jets that remember Larry Grantham, it was a sad day when he passed away over the weekend. For those of you that didn’t get to see him play, you missed a true legend. I was one of the lucky ones, as I watched him through his entire career in New York and had the honor to meet him at a charity event in 1970.
Grantham played his college ball at Ole Miss and later was voted into their Hall of Fame. Grantham was drafted into the then-emerging American Football League by the New York Titans. He was a small linebacker by modern standards, standing 6’0″ and weighing in at 208 pounds. Size didn’t matter to Grantham however. He played the game with ferocity, earning him the nickname “Mean Larry” from his teammates.
He played in the AFL and the NFL from 1960 when he was drafted by the Titans until 1972 as a Jet. He was a leader of the Jets defense during their amazing run up to and including their Super Bowl III victory. Any mention of that glorious day without mentioning Grantham would be sinful.
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During his career with the team, Grantham was a leader on and off the field. If there was ever a Jets player that exemplified “playing like a Jet”, it was him.
The guy was literally all over the football field on every snap, and let his presence be known.
He played smart and he played hard. He told me when I met him, that he played the game for the fans. That was apparent by the way Jets fans embraced him.
Grantham earned five Pro Bowl selections, four to the first team. Though tackles weren’t a recorded stat back in the early days of the NFL, Grantham has a solid tackler make no mistake. He was also an awesome drop back linebacker who excelled in coverage.
In his rookie season alone, he recorded five interceptions for the Titans. Throughout his career with the Jets, he amassed twenty-four picks and returned them for 308 yards.
Grantham was inducted into the Jets “Ring Of Honor” in 2011. He holds the Jets all-time take away record with 43, with 23 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries to his credit. He played with speed, breaking on passes before receivers could react and had the sure hands of a defensive back. He was truly amazing to watch.
He was a true Jet in every sense of the word. He worked to battle alcoholism and addiction in youth programs upon retirement. He was 78 years old at his passing. He’ll always be remembered in this household. Rest In Peace, Larry.