Larry Grantham, a longtime Jets outside linebacker and Super Bowl III starter, died Sunday at the age of 78.
Grantham was an original member of the franchise, which began as the Titans. He was drafted by the Colts in the 15th round of the 1960 NFL Draft, but chose to play with the Titans of the new AFL.
He became a starter the moment he arrived and would play 13 seasons for the Titans/Jets, setting the franchise record with 43 takeaways, a record that still stands. He was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2011.
Grantham played in 175 of the franchise’s first 182 games, thriving under defensive coordinator Walt Michaels. He made five AFL All-Star Games and was All-AFL five times. He was on the second team of the AFL All-Time Team chosen in 1970.
In Super Bowl III, the Jets’ only championship, he had three tackles and two passes defended in the 16-7 upset win over the Colts. He was the Jets’ team MVP in 1971.
Grantham, who came from Crystal Springs, Miss., was thrilled when he was chosen for the Jets’ Ring of Honor in 2011.
“That probably climaxes a career and doesn’t take second place to anything,” Grantham said, according to the team’s website. “I’m not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and sure, that’s a great big honor, but to me this honor with the Jets is unbelievable. Just think of all the players they’ve had up there from 1960 till now. It’s something I can’t put into words.”
After retiring as a player, Grantham was a team radio broadcaster for a short time and later went into business and banking.
His services will be in Crystal Springs, Miss. on Tuesday and Wednesday.