Larry Grantham, one of the greatest players in Jets history, has died at the age of 78.
A tough and feisty 210-pound linebacker, Grantham graduated from Ole Miss in 1960 and spurned the Baltimore Colts to play for the New York Titans of the upstart American Football League. The Titans would later change their names to the Jets, and Grantham would be one of their best players.
Grantham was a five-time AFL All-Star, helped the Jets win Super Bowl III and was chosen the team’s MVP in 1971. Grantham is one of only 20 players to play in all 10 of the AFL’s seasons.
“I always saw Larry as the captain and the leader,” teammate Gerry Philbin said. “His football knowledge, the way he skirted around blockers and made tackles, he just surprised a lot of people. Pound for pound, he was the best player on the Jets.”
Grantham, who played 13 seasons with the franchise, had nothing but fond memories — even of playing for a team that couldn’t always make payroll.
“Sometimes we didn’t get paid, but we had great times, and Sammy Baugh was one of the greatest coaches I ever played for,” Grantham recalled in 2011. “They’re all outstanding memories for me.”