NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Herb Rich, a three-sport star at Vanderbilt and defensive captain of the New York Giants when they won the NFL title in 1956, died Friday. He was 79.
Rich died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, the school said.
Rich spent seven years in the NFL. The Baltimore Colts drafted him in the sixth round in 1950, and he averaged 23 yards on punt returns as a rookie. He won a championship with the Los Angeles Rams in 1951 and was a two-time All-Pro defensive back. He played for the Giants between 1954 and 1956.
He had 29 career interceptions in 65 pro games, including three returned for touchdowns.
Rich, born in Newark, N.J., 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 with 1,282 yards. Rich averaged 27.7 yards on kickoff returns in 1948, helping the Commodores finish the season ranked No. 12.
After his NFL career, Rich returned to Nashville and practiced law.
"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."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press