Former Jets linebacker Larry Grantham dies at 78

FILE - In this Dec. 13, 1970, file photo, New York Jets linebacker Larry Grantham (60) catches Miami Dolphins back Jim Kiick (21), by the sleeve to throw him for a one-yard loss on an attempted end run in an NFL football game in Miami. Grantham, a starter and defensive standout on the 1969 Super Bowl team, has died. He was 78. The Jets announced Sunday, June 18, 2017, that a funeral service for Grantham will be held Wednesday in his hometown of Crystal Springs, Miss. (AP Photo/Jim Kerlin, File)
Jim Kerlin/Associated Press

Former New York Jets linebacker Larry Grantham has died at the age of 78, according to the Jets’ official team website.

Grantham played all 13 of his NFL seasons for the Jets franchise, even the first three years when they were called the Titans.

He was a five-time Pro Bowler and was named to the All-Pro team in each of his first five seasons.

Grantham was inducted into the Jets’ Ring of Honor in 2011.

“I had 13 wonderful years in New York, even with the Titans,” said Grantham before entering the Ring of Honor. “Sometimes we didn’t get paid, but we had great times, and Sammy Baugh was one of the greatest coaches I ever played for. They’re all outstanding memories for me. I still get excited when I get fan mail. People have been awful good to me in New York.”

Grantham played his college football at the University of Mississippi and was selected by the Baltimore Colts in the 15th round of the 1960 NFL Draft.

However, he decided to throw in with the Titans.

He immediately made an impact during his first season, logging five interceptions and three fumble recoveries, something that would become the norm for Grantham.

The six-foot, 210-pounder is the Jets’ all-time franchise leader with 43 career takeaways.

“I always saw Larry as the captain and the leader,” said defensive end Gerry Philbin, a teammate of Grantham’s and a fellow Ring of Honor member. “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.”

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