Announcement follows more than 30 years of grappling with seizures, dementia and early death
Claude Humphrey, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman who overcame an early career of alcoholism and abuse as a youth, died on Monday at the age of 77.
Humphrey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010, at age 69, and had struggled with a number of ailments including seizures, dementia and early death. He died at his home in Seaside, California, according to the Hall of Fame.
“It is with a great sense of loss and profound sadness that the Induction Committee joins the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family in mourning the passing of inductee, Claude Humphrey,” former Hall of Fame president David Baker said in a statement.
“His determination, legacy and determination to reclaim his greatness were tangible both on and off the football field, and is a story which will endure.
“Claude possessed talent, character and determination, having stepped onto the field knowing full well the perils of being an NFL professional athlete and a black male.”
Humphrey spent his entire 14-year career with the St Louis Cardinals before he was traded to the Seattle Seahawks in the 1974 NFL draft.
After his retirement he joined the NFLPA as an executive and voted for the first change to the Hall of Fame selection process, the initiation of bylaws that permitted anyone with a team pension and two children in college to be considered for induction.
He took out a multi-million dollar insurance policy against his Alzheimer’s symptoms – the policy was first reported in detail by the Washington Post in February.
Humphrey was inducted into the Hall in the builder category, as builders are admitted to the Canton shrine without football playing experience.
“He was not a true Hall of Famer as an individual athlete,” said Hall of Fame president David Baker, who succeeded Humphrey in 2005. “But his career as a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame member is certainly worthy of our acclaim.
“No greater athlete has ever played the game. He had great strength, a great intelligence, a great intellect and he sure had the tools to play.”
Humphrey started at left tackle in the 1960 NFL championship game against the Green Bay Packers, helping the Cardinals win 17-10. He was a seven-time Pro Bowler.
During his career he played against some of the greatest of all-time, including John Riggins, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers, O.J Simpson and Jim Brown. In 1968 he was named to the Pro Bowl.
Humphrey was an inductee in the inaugural class of the precursor to the Hall of Fame, the Pro Football Foundation, in 1985.