Bobby Humphrey spoke about his experiences in football at the South Shelby Chamber of Commerce’s annual Diamond Awards. Photo by Jessa Pease.
Becoming a legend was never the eighth-grade boy’s game plan—he just wanted to play football.
Bobby Humphrey was a great backyard football player, but his mother wouldn’t let him play on a team. So when Humphrey was in eighth grade, he joined a team without telling her, and he got away with it for about three weeks until his first game.
“Here it is, my first ball game ever in my life,” Humphrey said. “I scored three touchdowns, led the team in tackles, had an interception and I got the MVP on offense, defense and special teams.”
But it was a bittersweet victory because he knew his mother would be angry when he got home—it was after dark and he had been playing football. Standing in the doorway to his house, Humphrey presented his mother with his three trophies, and to his surprise, his mother wasn’t angry.
“She said there was something about the look I had in my eyes, that I really had a desire to do something,” he said. “She let me play from that day forward, and she said it’s the best thing she could’ve done.”
Humphrey went on to play football at the University of Alabama and was a first-round draft pick by the Denver Broncos. Now, he is an SEC Football Legend. The legends are part of an annual award program designed to honor outstanding former college football players from each of the conference’s 14 member institutions.
“My dream was to play football, and it led me to many different things,” Humphrey said. “Things are still happening just from a little kid who wanted to play ball. I never thought in my wildest dreams that my name would be associated with the word legend.”
The Hoover resident was honored on the field before Alabama and Missouri played for the SEC Championship title on Dec. 6. He represented the University of Alabama for his years as a running back under coach Ray Perkins from 1985 to 1988. Humphrey set the single-season rushing record in 1986 with 1,471 yards and finished 10th in the running for the Heisman Trophy.
He was the first player to ever sign a Division 1 scholarship to play football out of Glenn High School in Birmingham and was first noticed by an Alabama fan during a game his sophomore year. Although Glenn was down by a lot, Humphrey’s run for an 80-yard touchdown made an impression.
Humphrey attributes his success to his strong desire to play football.
“I’m telling you, every one of those 14 guys that are going to be sitting on that stage honored as legends this weekend, none of those guys set out to be legends,” he said. “But they are going to feel really good about the results.”