CLEMSON, S.C. (WSPA) – Clemson announced that Athletic Hall of Fame player, Gary Barnes, passed away at his home in Clemson on Tuesday afternoon.
According to the university, Barnes passed after a long battle against Parkinson’s disease. He was 83.
Barnes was born on Sept. 13, 1939, in Fairfax, Alabama. He played high school football and basketball at Valley High School and spent a year at Gordon Military Academy in Georgia before attending Clemson in 1958.
Barnes finished his Clemson career with 39 receptions for 719 yards and six touchdowns. His 18.4 yards per reception rank fourth best in Clemson history. He ranked in the top 10 in the ACC in total receiving yards all three years he played for the Tigers.
After his senior season, Barnes was a third-round draft choice, the 41st pick of the 1962 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He spent his rookie season with Vince Lombardi’s Packers as a reserve wide receiver and earned an NFL World Championship ring when the Packers beat the New York Giants in the NFL Championship Game.
Barnes was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for the 1963 season and he played in 12 games with three starts. He played 13 games of the 1964 campaign with the Chicago Bears and head coach George Halas, marking the third legendary NFL coach for whom he played in his first three years in the league.
Barnes was the first player signed by the expansion Atlanta Falcons in 1965, the year before the franchise began playing games. Fittingly, Barnes then scored the first touchdown in Falcons history in their first game against the Los Angeles Rams. The score came on a 53-yard pass from Falcons quarterback Randy Johnson, the longest reception of Barnes’ professional career.
Barnes played the 1966 and 1967 seasons with the Falcons. His best game as a pro came on Nov. 17, 1963, when he had six catches for 97 yards in a victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. He finished his professional career with 41 receptions for 583 yards and two touchdowns.
Following his playing career, Barnes worked for Chevron and then in the textile industry. In 1986, he became a municipal judge in Clemson, a position he held for 30 years.
Barnes was inducted into the Clemson Hall of Fame in 2002 and into the State of South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005.