Larry Grantham, a starting linebacker on the New York Jets‘ Super Bowl III championship team and a member of the Jets’ Ring of Honor, has died at the age of 78, the team announced Sunday night.
Grantham, an original member of the New York Titans in 1960, was a five-time AFL All-Star and a five-time all-NFL selection. Undersized at 6-foot, 210 pounds, he was known for his tenacity and intelligence. He called the defensive signals in the Jets’ epic upset of the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.
Originally drafted by the Colts in 1960, Grantham spurned the NFL to play for the fledgling AFL franchise. The Titans became the Jets in 1963, and he wound up playing with them until 1972. He played in 175 games, missing only seven.
He was inducted into the Ring of Honor in 2011. He’s also a member of the Ole Miss Sports Hall of Fame.
Grantham battled alcoholism and throat cancer. In 2009, he put his Super Bowl ring up for auction to offset the mounting medical bills. He was able to keep the ring because Freedom House, a drug-and-alcohol facility in New Jersey where Grantham raised money with annual golf events, spearheaded an effort to raise money to buy the ring.
Friends said Grantham was in tears when the ring was presented back to him.
A funeral will be held Wednesday in Crystal Springs, Mississippi.