Rayfield Wright

Larry Rayfield Wright (born August 23, 1945) is a former American football player, an offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League for thirteen seasons and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2006.[1][2]

Nicknamed the "Big Cat" for his nimble feet,[1] Wright played on five NFC Championship teams that advanced to the Super Bowl (1970, 1971, 1975, 1977, and 1978 seasons), winning twice. He also participated in the Ice Bowl against the Green Bay Packers for the NFL championship in his rookie season in 1967.

Rayfield Wright
refer to caption
In Hall of Fame jacket in 2006
No. 85, 67, 70
Position:Offensive tackle
Personal information
Born:August 23, 1945 (age 73)
Griffin, Georgia
Height:6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)
Weight:270 lb (122 kg)
Career information
High school:Griffin (GA) Fairmont
College:Fort Valley State
NFL Draft:1967 / Round: 7 / Pick: 182
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:166
Fumble recoveries:4
Player stats at NFL.com

Early years

Born and raised in Griffin, Georgia, Wright attended Fairmont High School, which was merged with Griffin High School. He was a letterman in basketball, but he was unable to make the high school football team.[1]

Wright went to nearby Fort Valley State College to play college basketball, where he was a standout player. The following summer, head coach Stan Lomax made him quit his summer job at a mill to get ready to join the Wildcats' football team. Lomax tried Wright at free safety, then used him as a punter, defensive end and tight end. The coach also became a father figure to Wright.[3]

Professional career

Wright was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1967 NFL/AFL draft, 182nd overall, as a tight end. During his first three years with Dallas, the 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m), 225 lb (102 kg) "Big Cat" was a tight end, defensive lineman, and offensive tackle.

In his third season in 1969, Wright got his first chance as a starter after Ralph Neely was sidelined by injury. His opponent in his first start was Los Angeles Rams future Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones, who was in his prime. Wright's performance was so strong that he won a starting role as right tackle before the first day of training camp in 1970.

For thirteen seasons, Wright played more than 200 games, started at right tackle in six NFC Championship games, and played in five Super Bowls, winning two of them: (VI, XII). He earned his first of four All-Pro honors in 1971 and was voted that same year to the first of six straight Pro Bowls.

Wright was named first- or second-team All-Pro each season from 1971 through 1976, earned three All-NFC honors, and the Cowboys led the league for total offense five times (ranked 6th all-time at retirement in 1979). His blocking and leadership as the team's co-captain for seven years helped the Cowboys win 10 division titles and six conference crowns.

Released by the Cowboys in March 1980, Wright signed in April with division rival Philadelphia,[4] but retired early in training camp in July 1980.[5]

He anchored the line for an offense that finished in the top ten in scoring all ten seasons of the 1970s, while helping pave the way for the first five 1,000-yard rushers in Cowboys' history.[1]

Wright played at a time when the right tackle was the most important spot on the offensive line, and was usually paired against the opponent's best pass rusher. He broke every time-honored mold previously held for men of his size. He was light on his feet and possessed an athleticism that had him miscast as a tight end and defensive end for the first three years of his NFL career.

"Rayfield could do it all," said former Cowboys running back Calvin Hill after Wright's election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. "He could pull. He could run in the open field. He could finesse-block and power-block in the run game. And there was no one better in pass-blocking. He was dominant."

"He was absolutely the best," said Roger Staubach. "Rayfield was a big, strong guy that was able to transfer his size and strength from tight end to tackle. He also had such quick feet that he was able to deal with some of the faster defensive ends and even the linebacker blitzes. If he got beat, I don't remember it."

Was voted the NFLPA NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1972.

Wright was also presented with a number of individual awards following the conclusion of his career, including the NFL All-Super Bowl Team (1990), the Dallas Cowboys 25th Anniversary Team (1985), the Cowboys' own Ring of Honor (2004), the Texas Sports Hall of Fame (2005) and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.

Legacy

Wright was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1988. He was a member of the NFL All-Time Super Bowl Team in 1990 and received the NFL Legends Award that same year. He was inducted into the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame in 2002. In 2004, Rayfield Wright was inducted in the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was officially inducted, with introduction by college coach Leon J. "Stan" Lomax, during the Enshrinement Ceremony on August 6, 2006[6] where his bust, sculpted by Scott Myers, was unveiled.

He was also inducted into the State of Georgia Hall of Fame, the Fort Valley Georgia Hall of Fame and the Griffin Georgia Hall of Fame.

Personal life

In 1992, Wright served as an assistant coach to the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. Wright's post-football involvement with at-risk, inner city youth resulted in his appointment to the Juvenile Supreme Court in Arizona. He also served as president of the NFL Alumni Chapter, "Caring for Kids" program in the mid-nineties. He philanthropic endeavors, including the non-profit "Kids 4 Tomorrow" organization he co-founded with some other NFL players, were featured in Volume 9 of the Philanthropy World Magazine,[7] along with former Cowboy teammate, Cliff Harris.

Wright founded the Rayfield Wright Foundation, which helps children obtain grants to attend college. He authored and published his autobiography Wright Up Front.

In recent years, Wright has battled with early-onset dementia, the result of numerous head injuries he says he had in 13 seasons, more than 180 regular-season and playoff games from 1967 to 1979.[2][8]

References

  1. ^ a b c d Aron, Jaime (August 5, 2006). "Wright tackled a new position". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. p. C7.
  2. ^ a b Macur, Juliet (January 26, 2014). "For a Cowboys star with dementia, time is running out". New York Times. Retrieved March 9, 2016.
  3. ^ "Default Parallels Plesk Page". www.rayfieldwright.com.
  4. ^ "Rayfield Wright signs with Philly". Observer-Reporter. Washington, Pennsylvania. Associated Press. April 21, 1980. p. C2.
  5. ^ "Rayfield Wright retires". Reading Eagle. Pennsylvania. Associated Press. July 27, 1980. p. 77.
  6. ^ "Years - Hall of Famers - Pro Football Hall of Fame Official Site". www.profootballhof.com.
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ "Cowboy greats file concussion suit against NFL". espn.com.

External links

1971 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1971. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1971.

1972 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1972. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1972.

1973 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1973. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1973.

1974 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1974. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1974.

1975 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1975. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1975.

1976 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team, the Newspaper Enterprise Association All-Pro team and the Pro Football Writers Association, and Pro Football Weekly All-Pro teams in 1976. Both first- and second- teams are listed for the AP, NEA, and PFWA teams. These are the four All-Pro teams that are included in the Total Football II: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League and compose the Consensus All-pro team for 1976.

1976 Dallas Cowboys season

The 1976 Dallas Cowboys season was their 17th in the league. The team improved on their previous output of 10–4, winning eleven games. They qualified for the playoffs, but were stunned by the Los Angeles Rams in the Divisional round.

Andy Frederick

Andrew Brian Frederick (born July 25, 1954) is a former American football offensive tackle in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, and Chicago Bears. He played college football at the University of New Mexico.

Bill Gregory

William Penn Gregory, Jr. (born December 14, 1949) is a former American football defensive lineman in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys and Seattle Seahawks. He played college football at the University of Wisconsin.

Dirty Dozen (American football)

The Dirty Dozen were the rookies that made the Dallas Cowboys team in 1975. These players were credited with helping the Cowboys advance to Super Bowl X and was a key foundation of the team's success during the latter half of the 1970s going into the early 1980s, as by 1979 many of these players would have replaced many of the Cowboys' aging starters of the 1960s. The rookies came up with the nickname inspired by the film of the same name, and spent half of the season without shaving.

Fort Valley State University

Fort Valley State University (FVSU) is a public historically black university (HBCU) in Fort Valley, Georgia, United States. It is a unit of the University System of Georgia and a member-school of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

As the only 1890 land-grant university in Georgia, Fort Valley State University is a comprehensive institution that provides an education to over 4,000 students. Approximately 91% of the current student body is of African-American descent. The average age of undergraduates is 24 and the average age of graduate students is 33. Roughly one-third of the students live on the campus, and 85% of the student body are full-time students. The university is located in the town of Fort Valley in Peach County, the original site of the state's peach industry. Its 1,365-acre (5.52 km2) campus is Georgia's second-largest public university in area.

Herbert Scott

Herbert Carnell Scott (born January 18, 1953) is a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League. He attended Kellam High School in Virginia Beach, and went on to star at the Virginia Union University where he was All-Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association three times.

Jim Cooper (American football)

James Albert Cooper (born September 28, 1955 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) is a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Temple University.

John Fitzgerald (center)

John Robert Fitzgerald (born April 16, 1948) is a former American football center in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys from 1971 to 1980, including four Super Bowls. He played college football at Boston College and was drafted in the fourth round of the 1970 NFL Draft.

Pat Donovan

Patrick Emery Donovan (born July 1, 1953) is a former American football offensive lineman in the National Football League for the Dallas Cowboys. He played college football at Stanford University. Sports Illustrated named him the fourth greatest Montana athlete of the 20th century.

Ralph Neely

Ralph Eugene Neely (born September 12, 1943) is a former American football offensive tackle who played 13 seasons and 172 games for the Dallas Cowboys from 1965 to 1977.

Scott Myers

Scott Myers (born 1958, USA) is an American painter and sculptor who lives and works in Texas. He graduated Texas A&M University in 1984 with a doctorate in veterinary medicine. He studied sculpture throughout Italy focusing on Florence, Venice and Rome. Sculpting in Tuscany, he cast his work in bronze at the prestigious Fonderia d'Arte Massimo Del Chiaro in Pietrasanta. In 1994, Myers became an elected member of the National Sculpture Society. On February 12, 2011, Myers was featured in the popular television show Texas Country Reporter. Myers was inducted in the inaugural class of the Haltom City High School Hall of Fame on March 10, 2011.Myers is best known for sculpting busts for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including Chris Doleman, Chris Hanburger, Rickey Jackson, Russ Grimm, Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Fred Dean, Emmitt Thomas, Bruce Matthews, Rayfield Wright, Elvin Bethea, Curley Culp, Claude Humphrey, Charles Haley and Kevin Greene.Myers' paintings focus mostly on ranch life and western landscapes, with horses and cowboys figuring prominently in his subject matter. His paintings combine bold color with a Monet-like layering of color and texture that makes him unique in the western art genre.

The Big Cat

The Big Cat is a popular nickname in professional sports. It may refer to:

Johnny Lee Bench(born 1941),Oklahoma , baseball player

Andrés Galarraga (born 1961), Venezuelan baseball player

Ernie Ladd (1938–2007), American wrestler and football player

Leon Lett (born 1968), American football player

Earl Lloyd (born 1928), American basketball player

Jamaal Magloire (born 1978), Canadian basketball player

Miloslav Mečíř (born 1964), Slovak tennis player

Johnny Mize (1913–1993), American baseball player

James Williams (offensive lineman) (born 1968), American football player

Rayfield Wright (born 1945), American football player

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