1) Third Overall Pick: Humphrey was a first-round draft pick by the Atlanta Falcons in 1968. The third pick overall in that year’s draft, he is the third first-round pick in franchise history. The first two came in 1966 in the franchise’s inaugural draft. The 1968 NFL Draft was the second year the NFL and AFL held a common draft in advance of the two league’s merger in 1970. It was just the first in three times the franchise has selected a player with the third overall pick in the draft (1991: Bruce Pickens; 2008: Matt Ryan). Humphrey was named the 1968 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. It was the second year of the award and it’s been named to a Falcons player just one other time, in 1980 when it was co-awarded to two Falcons, Buddy Curry and Al Richardson. Humphrey joins six other players from the 1968 draft in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
2) Six-Time Pro Bowler: The first of Humphrey’s six Pro Bowls came in 1970. It was the first Pro Bowl to feature the AFC vs. NFC format and Humphrey, playing on the NFC team, was coached by San Francisco 49ers head coach Dick Nolan, father of current Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.
3) Grits Blitz Centerpiece: Humphrey’s last Pro Bowl came in 1977, a notable year for the Falcons franchise. While they didn’t make the playoffs, they did field one of the best defenses the league has ever seen. They set the NFL record for fewest points allowed in a 14-game season, giving up 129 points over the season, an average of just over nine points a game. Nicknamed the “Grits Blitz,” they were No. 1 in the league in points allowed, first downs allowed, passing yards allowed and rushing touchdowns allowed. During a time period in the NFL dominated by defense, nicknamed it the “Dead Ball Era,” the Falcons were one of the best. The website ColdHardFootballFacts.com ranks the ’77 Grits Blitz as the third stingiest defense of all time.
4) Falcons First Playoff Appearance: The ’77 defense set the stage for the 1978 Falcons, the first playoff team in franchise history. After a 9-7 season, the Falcons played their first ever playoff game, a home game against the Eagles. That set up a 27-20 loss to the Cowboys in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs. Six weeks after that loss, the fourth episode of the TV show The Dukes of Hazard aired, featuring Humphrey as “Big John,” an adversary of the Duke brothers who are trying to repossess a Rolls Royce. Ironically, Humphrey’s head coach in college at Tennessee State, John Merritt–considered one of the best college coaches in the ’60′s and ’70′s–was nicknamed “Big John”.
5) All-Time Falcon: Humphrey returned to the Falcons as a defensive assistant coach from 1987 to 1989. The head coach at the time, Marion Campbell, said Humphrey “will be a tremendous help, concentrating most of his efforts on the defensive pass rush.” Humphrey started all 127 games he played in his Falcons career (sixth in team history) and he holds the team record for sacks in a career (94.5). He was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor in 2008.