Humphrey, Packers DT in mid-'80s, dies at 53

Jeff Ash
Gannett Wisconsin Media
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Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Donnie Humphrey in 1986.

Donnie Humphrey, a massive defensive tackle whose Green Bay Packers career was cut short in the 1980s by weight and drug problems, has died. He was 53.

The 6-foot-3, 285-pounder was the Packers' third-round pick in the 1984 NFL draft. The former Auburn University star played for Green Bay for three seasons, from 1984 to 1986, and had three sacks in 48 games. He started all 16 games in 1984, but only 11 over the next two seasons.

Packers coach Forrest Gregg ran out of patience and cut Humphrey in May 1987 after he didn't follow an offseason nutrition program and reported for offseason workouts at 335 pounds. The Packers listed him at 295 pounds in 1986, but wanted him to play at 270.

"He was always fighting a weight problem and wasn't doing anything about it," Gregg said after releasing Humphrey.

Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Donnie Humphrey (79) pressures Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon (9) at Lambeau Field on Nov. 3, 1985. Bears tackle Keih Van Horne (78) blocks Packers defensive end Robert Brown (93) at lower right. The Packers lost 16-10.

Humphrey's weight problem coincided with a drug problem. In 1985, while with the Packers, he went into rehab for cocaine abuse. In 1994, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for forgery after stealing a check from an Auburn, Ala., office and cashing it to pay for crack cocaine.

After leaving prison, Humphrey returned to his hometown of Huntsville, Ala., where he'd starred in football and played baseball, basketball and track and field. He helped coach at his old high school and worked as a security officer at a middle school.

Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Donnie Humphrey (79) is congratulated by linebacker Brian Noble (91) after sacking New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms at Lambeau Field on Sept. 15, 1985. The Packers won 23-20.

Humphrey died Sept. 2 at his home in Yucca Valley, Calif., not long after having a leg amputated because of diabetes complications, according to media reports. He was an assistant coach for a minor-league football team at the time of his death.

At Auburn, he was an all-Southeastern Conference defensive tackle in 1981 and, because of injury, was the first five-year letterman in school history.

Survivors include his wife, two daughters, a son and four stepchildren. His daughter Tasha starred in basketball at Georgia and played in the WNBA.

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Packers deaths in 2014

Don Bracken (punter, 1985-90), Oct. 29.

Leon McLaughlin (offensive line coach, 1975-76), Oct. 27.

Rebel Steiner (defensive back, 1950-51), Oct. 18.

Donnie Humphrey (defensive tackle, 1984-86), Sept. 2.

Perry Moss (quarterback, 1948), Aug. 7.

Ray DiPierro (guard, 1950-51), July 20.

Allen Jacobs (halfback, 1965), April 22.

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