Claude Humphrey, Falcons standout defender, gets his Hall call

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Upon seeing his Pro Football Hall of Fame bust, Claude Humphrey kissed it and gave it a pat on the head.

And then, upon starting his speech, the former Falcons and Eagles defensive end had a message.

“Now, they told me that I only had 10 minutes up here, but let me start off by telling you I’ve waited almost 30 years to get to this podium, so don’t rush me guys — I’m going to be here for a minute,” Humphrey said as the crowd cheered.

Indeed, no member of the Hall’s Class of 2014 waited longer for induction than Humphrey, whose playing career wrapped up 33 years ago.

But on Saturday, the 70-year-old Humphrey finally had his day in Canton.

The No. 3 overall pick in the 1968 NFL Draft, Humphrey recorded 122 career sacks in 14 seasons, according to Pro Football Hall of Fame data.

In his 11 seasons in Atlanta, the Falcons never made the postseason, but Humphrey’s play didn’t escape notice. He earned Pro Bowl honors six times in the 1970s.

Though Humphrey missed the entire 1975 season with a knee injury, he returned to play six more seasons, garnering Pro Bowl honors in 1977. Humphrey finally reached the postseason in 1979 as a member of Philadelphia, and he would play on the 1980 Eagles club that reached Super Bowl XV.

In his speech, Humphrey took a moment to remember his late wife, whom he recalled as a “special person” who did everything she could to advocate for his Hall candidacy.

Humphrey also had kind words for long-time NFL coach Marion Campbell, the former Falcons defensive coordinator and head coach whom he credited for helping him improve his technique.

Dick Vermeil, Humphrey’s coach in Philadelphia, was in attendance in Canton, and Humphrey took a moment to praise Vermeil’s work.

“This man worked tirelessly to take a football team that perhaps may not have been a great football team, but he had a bunch of young guys who really got into what he was preaching, and we ended up going to a Super Bowl,” Humphrey said.

Claude Humphrey was presented by his daughter, Cheyenne Humphrey-Robinson.