Former NFL Player Herb Rich dies at 79

Herb Rich a seven year veteran of the NFL and the defensive captain of the New York Giants when they won the NFL title in 1956 died Friday. He was 79.

Rich was originally drafted by the Baltimore Colts out of Vanderbilt in the sixth round of the 1950 draft. He spent one season there returning punts and averaging 23 yards per return.

Herb Rich went on to play for the Los Angeles Rams from 1951-1953 winning a championship with them in 1951. During his time with the Rams he was a two time All-Pro defensive back.

In 1954 he was signed by the New York Giants. He played there until 1956.

During his seven year career he had 29 interceptions returning 3 of them for touchdowns. His career long came in 1952 with the Rams returning on 97 yards. After his last year in the league Rich returned to the Nashville area and practiced law.

Rich was an all-Southeastern Conference player at Vanderbilt who also lettered in basketball and baseball. He led the Commodores in rushing in 1948 and 1949. Rich averaged 27.7 yards on kickoff returns in 1948, helping the Commodores finish the season ranked No. 12.

“This is a terrible loss for the Vanderbilt community,” Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. “Herb was an extremely kind person who always was supportive, not only of the Vanderbilt football team but of the entire athletic program.”

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2 Responses to “Former NFL Player Herb Rich dies at 79”

  1. Robert Fenton says:

    Herb Rich was my uncle. On behalf his family, thank you for the factual report.

    • William Levine says:

      When I came to Miami Beach H.S. in 1943, the homeroom teacher introduced me to the class and asked where I came from. When I
      said Elizabeth, N.J., a cheer erupted from a one student. He was Herb Rich and he came from Newark, which is right next door.

      Herb was a born athlete. He lettered in football, baseball and
      basketball. He was a star in each sport and a real team leader.
      He was extremely popular at MBHS, not only for his athletic accomplishments, but because he was a genuinely nice guy.

      Later on, I recall seeing Herb on TV playing for Vanderbilt; much
      later, there was a full page photo in a hospital room, his trademark
      grin intact, recovering from a broken ankle sustained playing for
      the NY Giants.

      I was very sad to learn of his death.