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Willie Wood
Jersey #(s)
Born December 23, 1936 (1936-12-23) (age 73)
Washington, D.C.
Career information
Year(s) 19601971
Undrafted in 1960
College USC
Professional teams
Career stats
Interceptions 48
Interception yards 699
Touchdowns 2
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

William Vernell Wood Sr. (born December 23, 1936, in Washington, D.C.) is a former American football safety for the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League.


College career

Wood played for the USC Trojans, where he was the first African American quarterback for the entire Pacific-10 Conference.He also used techniques that helped him learn the game better than any one.

Football career

Out of the University of Southern California, Wood was not drafted by any National Football League team. He had to tryout before the Packers signed him as a free agent in 1960. He was recast as a free safety, and was a starter in the season. He started until his retirement in 1971.The best defensive back in the leauge yea man he is the best.

Wood won All-NFL honors nine times in a nine-year stretch from 1962 through the 1971 season, participated in the Pro Bowl eight times, and played in six NFL championship games, winning all except the first one in 1960.

Wood was the starting free safety for the Packers in Super Bowl I against the Kansas City Chiefs and Super Bowl II against the Oakland Raiders. In Super Bowl I, he recorded a key interception that helped the Packers put the game away in the second half. In Super Bowl II, he returned 5 punts for 35 yards, including a 31-yard return that would stand as the record for longest punt return in a Super Bowl until Darrell Green's 34-yard return in Super Bowl XVIII. He won the NFL interception title in 1962 and the league punt return championship.

Wood finished his 12 NFL seasons with 48 interceptions, which he returned for 699 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also gained 1,391 yards and scored 2 touchdowns on 187 punt returns.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

In 1973 (just 2 years removed from his days as a player), Willie was named the head coach of the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League. This made him the first African-American head coach in professional football of the modern era. Willie was also a head coach in the Canadian Football League with the Toronto Argonauts. When he was hired by the Argonauts in 1980, he also became the first black head coach in the CFL.


Willie has a son, Willie Wood Jr., who played for (1992–1993) and later coached the Indiana Firebirds in the Arena Football League after coaching at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C. Willie Wood Jr. is currently the Wide Receiver/Defensive Backs Coach and Special Teams Coordinator for the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League.

Willie is currently living in an assisted care facility and has had many operative procedures as a result of his being injured during his NFL career. He has had replacement knees and replacement hips, dementia and forgetfulness, and his current NFL pension of a little over $1100 per month is just not enough to pay all of his bills. In the Washington area a benefit is being held for Willie to help raise over $25,000 to pay his medical bills. His situation is one of many of former NFL players suffering from disabilities and even dementia and need a lot more help than the NFL is willing to provide to ex-players.

He currently lives in Washington, D.C..

Career Statistics

Year Games INT'S Yards TD
1960(GB) 12 0 0 0
1961(GB) 14 5 52 0
1962(GB) 14 9 132 0
1963(GB) 14 5 67 0
1964(GB) 14 3 73 1
1965(GB) 14 6 65 0
1966(GB) 14 3 38 1
1967(GB) 14 4 60 0
1968(GB) 14 2 54 0
1969(GB) 14 3 40 0
1970(GB) 14 7 110 0
1971(GB) 14 1 8 0
Totals 166 48 699 2

He also served as a punt returner throughout his career, recording 2 Touchdowns in 1961 and averaging 7.4 yards per return in 187 attempts. He also had 3 kickoff returns for 20 yards (6.7 average) and kicked twice going 0-1 on field goals, and 1-1 on PAT.[1]

External links

Preceded by
Forrest Gregg
Toronto Argonauts Head Coaches
Succeeded by
Tommy Hudspeth
Preceded by
Tom Maudlin
USC Trojans Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Bill Nelsen


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