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Rayfield Wright
RayfieldWright.jpg
Wright, in his gold Hall of Fame jacket.
Position(s)
Offensive tackle
Jersey #(s)
70
Born August 23, 1945 (1945-08-23) (age 64)
Griffin, Georgia
Career information
Year(s) 19671979
NFL Draft 1967 / Round: 7 / Pick: 182
College Fort Valley State
Professional teams
Career stats
Games played 166
Seasons 13
Fumble recoveries 4
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Larry Rayfield Wright (born August 23, 1945 in Griffin, Georgia) is a former American football offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Contents

High school and college years

Wright attended Fairmont High School in Griffin, Georgia and was a letterman in basketball. Wright attended Fort Valley State College and was an All-American selection.

Unable to make his high school football team, he went to Fort Valley State College to play basketball. The following summer, coach Stan Lomax made him quit his summer job at a mill to get ready to join the 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 the fatherless Wright.

He was a standout basketball player at Fort Valley State College and was eventually drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the 1967 NFL Draft as a tight end.

Professional career

During his first three years with Dallas, the six-foot-six, 255-pound "Big Cat" was used as a tight end, defensive lineman, and offensive tackle.

In 1969, Wright got his first chance as a starter after Ralph Neely was sidelined by injury. The man he would face all afternoon was the 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 the 1970 training camp.

For thirteen seasons, Wright played 166-games, started at right tackle in six NFC Championship games, and played in five Super Bowls, winning two of them (Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII). He earned his first of four All-NFL 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 7 years) helped the Cowboys win 10 division titles and six conference crowns.

He anchored the line for an offense that finished in the top 10 in scoring all 10 seasons in the 1970s, while helping pave the way for the first five 1,000-yard rushers in Dallas Cowboys history.

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.

Wright 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.

A knee injury he suffered in 1977 cut short a season that would have surely gained him his seventh consecutive Pro Bowl, as he was considered the NFL's premier offensive tackle at the time.[1]

"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 1st 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.

After the NFL

In 1992, Wright served as an assistant coach to the Arizona Rattlers. 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[2], along with fellow former-Cowboy teammate, Cliff Harris. The Athletes International Ministries awarded him Hall of Faith Award in 1997.

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. In 2006, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

External links

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