Home » Who was Rayfield Wright? (Cowboys Hall of Fame tackle Rayfield Wright dead at 76)Wiki, Bio, Age, Instagram, Twitter & Quick Facts
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Who was Rayfield Wright? (Cowboys Hall of Fame tackle Rayfield Wright dead at 76)Wiki, Bio, Age, Instagram, Twitter & Quick Facts

Rayfield Wright

Rayfield Wright Wiki

                                      Rayfield Wright Biography

Who was Rayfield Wright?

Rayfield Wright, the Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle nicknamed “Big Cat” who went to five Super Bowls in his 13 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, died Thursday. He was 76 years old.

Wright’s family confirmed his death Thursday to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which said Wright had been hospitalized for several days following a serious seizure. The Cowboys also confirmed the death.

A great player for his era at 6-foot-6 and over 250 pounds, Wright had already been a backup tight end for a couple of seasons when coach Tom Landry asked him about playing tackle. A surprised Wright said he had never played tackle in his life, but Landry told him he would be good.

Career

Wright first started at tackle in a 1969 game lined up against Deacon Jones, the most dominant pass-rusher of that era. Wright stuck to his guns and was installed as a full-time starter at right tackle in 1970, when Dallas clinched its first Super Bowl. The Cowboys then won their first Super Bowl title in 1971, the first of six consecutive seasons that Wright was a Pro Bowler. He was a three-time All-Pro.

“He was absolutely the best,” Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach said before Wright’s hall induction in 2006. “Rayfield was a big, strong guy who could transfer his size and tight end strength to tackle. He also had such quick feet that he was able to deal with some of the faster defensive ends and even attacks from linebackers. If he was beaten, I don’t remember.”

Death

His nickname “Big Cat” was because he was so agile for his size.

Dallas won another Super Bowl in 1977, but Wright played only two games that season due to knee surgery. He had played in 95 of the team’s 98 regular-season games, starting 94 of them, the previous seven seasons.

After Wright started only 16 of his 31 games in 1978 and 1979, the Cowboys released him the following spring. He signed with NFC East rival Philadelphia but officially withdrew due to nagging injuries early in training camp without playing a game for the Eagles.

Wright was diagnosed with early-stage dementia in 2012, but had long been plagued by seizures since his retirement. He believed that they were due to the effects of the continuous blows to the head while he was playing soccer. For a long time he had been dealing with headaches, dizziness, and sometimes unexplained irritability and forgetfulness.

Interview

In a 2014 interview with The New York Times, Wright said he suffered so many concussions during his NFL career that he couldn’t even count them.

When he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame more than a quarter-century after his last game, Wright was introduced in Canton, Ohio, by longtime Fort Valley State football coach Stan Lomax.

Wright didn’t even make his high school football team for three years in Griffin, Ga., before going to Fort Valley State in his home state to play basketball. The following summer, Lomax made him quit his summer factory job to prepare to join the football team.

Lomax tested Wright at free safety, then used him as a punter, defensive end and tight end. The coach also became a father figure to Wright, who was selected by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1967 NFL draft.

Wright still preferred basketball, though he turned down an offer after his junior season to sign with the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals, the franchise that is now the Sacramento Kings, so he could finish school.

He still had his sights set on the NBA when Cowboys director of player personnel Gil Brandt called and said the team was interested in drafting him.

Early Life

“I realized that the potential, playing for the Cowboys, was a God-given opportunity and I couldn’t ignore it. I decided to attend the Cowboys training camp which was in July. Royals camp didn’t start until August,” Wright said in his Hall of Fame speech. “I figured if I didn’t make the Cowboys team, I could go straight to the NBA.”

Wright said that Brandt was “hiring everybody who could walk” and that he was among 137 rookies at Cowboys training camp in 1967. He was one of five who made the team.

Wright was a backup tackle for the first two months of the 1969 season, then moved to the starting job when Ralph Neely was injured. His first start came when Dallas, then 8-1, played the 9-0 Los Angeles Rams with their Fearsome Foursome defense.

“We’re getting close to the line of scrimmage and I’m looking Deacon Jones right in the eye, his eyes look red like fire, he’s kicking his back leg like a bull,” Wright recalled later. “I say to myself, ‘My God, what have I gotten myself into?’”

Before he broke the ball, Jones yelled, “Boy, does your mom know you here?” Wright was so stunned that Jones ran him over.

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