Larry Grantham Memorialized on Highway 27

Late Ole Miss, New York Jets football great was Super Bowl III champ with Joe Namath

Family and friends of former Ole Miss Rebels great Larry Grantham attend the dedication of a portion of Highway 27 in Crystal Springs in his memory. The group includes (from left) June Grantham, James Larry Grantham II, Debbie Greer, Kayla Grantham, Rick Williams, Ann Grantham Greer, LeAnne Grantham Williams, Carlene Grantham Ainsworth, Rep. Gregory Holloway, Sr. (R-Dist. 76), Mayor Sally Garland, Carey Grantham, Peggy C. Grantham, Susan Greer, James Larry Grantham III and the Rev. Chris Teasley. Photo courtesy Mississippi Department of Transportation.

OXFORD, Miss. – Before Eli, even before Archie, there was Larry Grantham.

The Manning family’s two-generational association with Ole Miss Rebel football, the NFL and Super Bowl championships is legendary. Yet the late Crystal Springs native’s track record was no less stellar. And as Manning Way honors their family’s legacy on the University of Mississippi’s campus, a portion of Highway 27 in Copiah County recently named in Grantham’s memory will do the same for his family.

Grantham died June 17, 2017. Exactly 13 month later, the Mississippi Department of Transportation made the dedication. The brief ceremony was the culmination of a request from state Rep. Gregory Holloway Sr. to the Copiah County Board of Supervisors that a portion of Highway 27 be designated in memoriam to the deceased football legend.

Following the supervisors’ approval, Holloway made the proposal as a resolution to the Mississippi Legislature, which approved the request as House Bill No. 1150 during its regular session in March.

“As Larry Grantham’s great niece, I feel so thankful that Uncle Larry has been honored with the highway being named after him,” said Rebecca Phillips, director of university and public events. “It’s a proud moment for our family, the University of Mississippi and for the whole state of Mississippi.”

Susan Greer, a niece of Grantham’s, spearheaded the effort to designate the highway in Crystal Springs in his memory. She made contact with Holloway, himself a lifelong fan of Grantham, who gladly helped push the measure through.

“Larry knew that if he had any hope of attending college, it would be up to him to get some kind of scholarship,” Greer said. “Ole Miss came scouting and eventually offered Larry a half-scholarship in baseball and a half-scholarship in football. After that, he was an Ole Miss Rebel for life.”

Born Sept. 16, 1938 in Gatesville, a small community near Crystal Springs, Grantham graduated from Crystal Springs High School. A football champion at Crystal Springs High School, which won the South Little Dixie Conference, he went on to play for the Rebels.

Larry Grantham was named All-SEC, a member of the SEC Team of the Decade and Ole Miss Team of the Century. Submitted photo

Grantham’s college highlights and honors included being named All-SEC, a member of the SEC Team of the Decade and Ole Miss Team of the Century, and induction into the Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame.

“Next to God and his family, nothing was more important to him than Ole Miss and his beloved Mississippi,” said Peggy Grantham, his widow. “Until his health prevented him from doing so, he attended every home football game at Ole Miss.”

After Ole Miss, Grantham played professional football for 13 years and was part of the New York Jets Super Bowl III championship team in 1969, was named the Jets MVP in 1970 and served as AFL Players Association Representative for 10 years. His Jets record of 43 takeaways still stands.

He was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1980 and into the prestigious New York Jets Ring of Honor in 2011. Grantham was honored in 2016 when he presented the Super Bowl III gold football to his high school alma mater.

Grantham was preceded in death by his parents, Carl Cornelius Grantham and Mable Julia Whittington Grantham, and brother Ronald Grantham. He is survived by his wife, Peggy Carlin Grantham; daughter LeAnne (Rick) Williams; son Jamie (June) Grantham; stepdaughter Angie (Phil) White; seven grandchildren; three great-granddaughters; three sisters; a brother; a sister-in-law and numerous nieces, nephews and friends.