Larry Grantham, who starred at outside linebacker for the first 13 seasons of the Jets’ existence, including of course in Super Bowl III, and was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2011, has died. He was 78.
“I had 13 wonderful years in New York, even with the Titans,” Grantham, who always wore his iconic uniform No. 60, reminisced in 2011 before he entered the Ring. “Sometimes we didn’t get paid, but we had great times, and Sammy Baugh was one of the greatest coaches I ever played for. They’re all outstanding memories for me. I still get excited when I get fan mail. People have been awful good to me in New York.”
Grantham was awful good for the Jets and Titans and their fans. A member of the University of Mississippi’s “All-Century Team” in 1959, he was drafted by the Baltimore Colts (coached at the time by Weeb Ewbank) in the 15th round of the 1960 NFL Draft, held in November 1959. But he decided to throw in with the Titans of New York, who made him one of their 32 “first selections” in the fledgling American Football League’s first draft around the same time.
And Grantham, who played at 6’0″ and 210 pounds, was a starter and contributor from the day he arrived. He was speedy, impactful, and displayed the hands of a sure tackler and a defensive thief. That first season he came up with five interceptions and three fumble recoveries, the first eight of his 43 individual takeaways, which to this day are the franchise career record.
The takeaways were only part of his game. He was an ironman, playing in 175 of the franchise’s first 182 games. And after Ewbank came over from the Colts to coach the Jets in 1963 and Walt…
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