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David Humm Oakland Raiders

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Raiders QB Humm Touched All Who Had the Pleasure to Know Him

Raiders QB Humm Touched All Who Had the Pleasure to Know Him

After a long and courageous battle with multiple sclerosis, native Las Vegan and former Oakland Raiders quarterback David Humm died Tuesday just days shy of his 66th birthday. Our own Editor-in-Chief, Jim Fossum, was fortunate enough to call him friend.

To know David Humm is to envision a fuzzy-cheeked quarterback stepping into the Bishop Gorman High School huddle in the late 1960s and telling his wide-eyed teammates, “I’m scoring. If you guys want to come with me you can.”

That’s how I remember David Humm.

Humm died late Tuesday just days shy of his 66th birthday from complications of multiple sclerosis.

In my eyes, as people go, they can’t build a shrine big enough.

Here’s what else you should know about David:

David Humm Oakland Raiders

Late Raiders owner Al Davis loved the grit and determination of Humm both during his playing days and after.

— He remains among the most heavily recruited high school athletes in Southern Nevada sports history. When the college football powers came calling in 1970, the left-handed prep All-American visited 12 of the more than 100 schools that recruited him. The legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant brought Joe Namath with him to Las Vegas to try to lure the Gaels star to Alabama. Notre Dame Coach Ara Parseghian and UCLA’s Tommy Prothro also camped out on his doorstep.

— Playing for Hall of Fame coaches Bob Devaney and Tom Osborne at Nebraska, Humm went 27-7-2 as the Cornhuskers placed in The Associated Press Top 10 all three years he started. After winning the national championship as a backup his freshman season, he led the Huskers to victories over Notre Dame in the Orange Bowl, Texas in the Cotton Bowl and Florida in the Sugar Bowl. An All-American his senior season when he finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy balloting, he shared the 1974 Senior Bowl starting backfield with Walter Payton.

— A fifth-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 1975, Humm played under John Madden and Tom Flores, and behind Ken Stabler and Jim Plunkett, in winning Super Bowls XI and XVIII in 1977 and 1984. He played 95 games over 10 seasons with the Oakland and Los Angeles Raiders, Bills and Colts. The end of Humm’s playing career came at Soldier Field in 1984 after Bears defensive end Richard Dent and linebacker Otis Wilson tore cartilage in both of his knees and busted some of his teeth.

It never crossed Humm’s mind that multiple sclerosis would defeat him.

Diagnosed with MS in 1988 at age 36, Humm battled the dreadful disease that attacks the central nervous system for 30 years. Born April 2, 1952, he courageously stared down the debilitating illness that causes paralysis and blindness and confined him to a wheelchair in 1997. Two years earlier, on Christmas Eve 1995, I broke the news nationally on the front page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Humm had been suffering from the autoimmune disease for which there is no known cause or cure.

David Humm Oakland Raiders

Humm with Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and fellow Raiders alumni after relocation to Las Vegas was approved.

Shunning sympathy, it took months for David to agree to share his compelling story. For the good of others, he relented. While introducing Humm as the only inductee into the inaugural class of the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame in 1997, Raiders owner Al Davis praised the Sunday Review-Journal story from the podium, declaring, “This article tells you all you need to know about why David Humm is my all-time favorite Raider!”

Later, when Humm lost use of his legs and phoned with news he’d have to relinquish his color commentary duties as Raiders radio broadcaster, Davis hung up on his pet player, telling him to work from his Las Vegas home. He then built a studio there for him to do it.

Crippled and trembling, Humm called often over the years to inquire about my own health issues as I battled vision disabilities that forced my retirement as longtime R-J sports editor at age 48 in 2006. That’s another quality I admired about David. No athlete has enriched my life and 40-year journalism career as much as the man we affectionately knew as the Hummer. Energetic, enthusiastic and enlightening, his indomitable spirit was infectious.

Here’s one other thing you should know about my friend:

I’ve never cried while writing a sports story before now . . .

Former longtime Las Vegas Review-Journal Sports Editor Jim Fossum brings nearly 40 years of award-winning experience covering virtually every facet of print and digital journalism to Las Vegas Raiders Report. Fossum is the site's senior columnist and Editor-in-Chief Emeritus. Recently retired, the 1980 Northern Arizona University graduate began his 25-year Review-Journal career in January 1981 as tennis, golf and football beat writer. He was lead writer for the annual Alan King/Caesars Palace Tennis Classic, featuring Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg; all three of Las Vegas’ major professional golf tour stops as a longtime member of the Golf Writers Association of America; and the celebrated “Randall Cunningham Era” of UNLV football. Also a copy editor and page designer who became R-J sports editor at age 33 shortly after covering UNLV in the 1991 Final Four, Fossum was named Nevada Sportswriter of the Year in 1998 by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Winner of numerous writing awards from the Nevada Press Association, his reporting experience includes ringside coverage of several of boxing’s most anticipated world championship prize fights, including the highlight of his career -- the September 1981 world welterweight title bout between Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard at Caesars Palace. Hall of Famers Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Larry Bird are among the many superstars he has interviewed, in addition to helping document the careers of Las Vegans Andre Agassi and Greg Maddux. Honored with numerous community service awards from local charitable organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the American Cancer Society, Fossum was cited in the late 1990s by the Southern Nevada Sports Hall of Fame for his contributions to local athletics. A longtime member of the Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE), he helped oversee the organization’s annual West Regional Convention for several years at various Las Vegas Strip resorts. He helped recruit APSE’s national convention to the MGM Grand in 2006 after annually attending weeklong seminars at many of the country’s largest and most respected major dailies. In 2005, he was honored with Lake Havasu High School’s Distinguished Alumni Award and delivered his alma mater’s Class of 2006 commencement speech 30 years after graduating. Review-Journal sports editor for 16 years, Fossum retired to the Oregon Coast at age 48 in January 2006. Most recently, he was founder/publisher/editor of OregonCoastSports.com (previously SportsLincolnCounty.com), an independent website dedicated to area youth. He also worked at two weekly community newspapers (Newport News-Times and Lincoln City News Guard) as section editor, reporter, photographer and page designer.

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