Humphrey HOF Speech (Video)
CANTON, Ohio – Former Tennessee State defensive lineman Claude Humphrey was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night in front of roughly 30,000 people in Fawcett Stadium.
“I have so many mixed emotions right now,” Humphrey said. “I didn’t expect to get here, but I am sure glad that I did.”
Humphrey was one of seven to give their induction speeches on Saturday, joining Derrick Brooks, Ray Guy, Walter Jones, Andre Reed, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams.
To start Humphrey’s just under 30-minute long address, the Memphis, Tenn. native opened with, “They told me I only had 10 minutes up here, but let me start off by telling you that I have waited almost 30 years to get to this podium, so don’t rush me, guys. I am going to be here for a minute.”
Humphrey was a three-time All-American defensive tackle at TSU from 1964 to 1967.
During his senior season, Humphrey played in four college all-star games, ending his collegiate career as the all-time leader in sacks at TSU with 39. Currently, he is tied for second behind Lamar Carter along with fellow TSU legend and Richard Dent.
Of his collegiate playing career, Humphrey said, “A lot of recruiters came to visit me, but none like John Merritt. To me, Merritt was the greatest coach in historic black football. We lost a total of five games in four years.”
Humphrey became the second Tiger inducted into the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame, Saturday, joining fellow defensive lineman Richard Dent who was inducted in 2011.
“I am so happy for Claude, and it really speaks to the type of program we had [at Tennessee State, having two players in the Hall of Fame],” Dent said. “It was a long-time coming, but well-deserved.”
Humphrey was selected in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft going third overall to the Atlanta Falcons. During his rookie season in Atlanta, he was name AP Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Humphrey played 13 seasons in the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons (1968-74, 76-77) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1979-81).
While with Atlanta, he was named All-NFL or All-Pro eight times and was selected to the Pro Bowl on six different occasions.
During the 1980 season with the Eagles, Humphrey totaled a team-high 14.5 sacks on the way to an NFC Championship and an appearance in Super Bowl XV.
Even though the sack didn't become an official NFL statistic until after he retired, Humphrey is still credited with 122 career sacks, including holding the all-time career sacks mark for the Falcons with 94.5.
Dick Vermeil, who coached Humphrey while he was in Philadelphia was present at the induction ceremonies to honor his former player.
“Claude Humphrey is the caliber of player, that if he were playing today, would still make the Hall of Fame,” Vermeil said. “Of course he is a Hall of Fame person, too, a great leader, has a great-work ethic and is a family man.”
Humphrey is only the second Falcon to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.