Rayfield Wright, the Professional Soccer Hall of Fame offensive tackle nicknamed “Massive Cat” who went to 5 Tremendous Bowls in his 13 NFL seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, died Thursday. He was 76.
Wright’s relatives verified his death Thursday to the Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame, which mentioned Wright experienced been hospitalized for a number of times subsequent a severe seizure. The Cowboys also confirmed the dying.
“Rayfield Wright was the epitome of what it usually takes to be a Hall of Famer,” Cowboys proprietor/common supervisor Jerry Jones said in a assertion. “His grit, his agility, his passion, his charisma and his enjoy for soccer, the community and his loved ones usually shined by way of. The primary ‘Big Cat’ served form the upcoming of the Dallas Cowboys by way of his illustrious 13-year taking part in profession. Rayfield was a winner on and off the area. He remained an essential component of the Cowboys relatives very long immediately after his playing days ended, and he will be deeply missed. Our love and support go out to his spouse, Di, and the whole Wright relatives.”
A big player for his era at 6-foot-6 and above 250 lbs, Wright had already been a backup restricted conclusion for a few of seasons when mentor Tom Landry asked him about participating in tackle. A shocked Wright reported he had in no way performed tackle in his life, but Landry informed him he would make a excellent a single.
Wright initial started off at deal with in a 1969 game lined up in opposition to Deacon Jones, the most dominant move-rusher of that period. Wright held his individual and settled in as the entire-time starter at proper deal with in 1970, when Dallas produced its very first Super Bowl. The Cowboys then won their initial Super Bowl title in 1971, the initial of 6 consecutive seasons Wright was a Professional Bowler. He was a a few-time All-Pro.
“He was absolutely the finest,” Corridor of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach reported ahead of Wright’s hall induction in 2006. “Rayfield was a massive, sturdy person that was equipped to transfer his measurement and toughness from limited finish to tackle. He also had this kind of quick toes that he was in a position to deal with some of the quicker defensive finishes and even the linebacker blitzes. If he acquired beat, I really don’t recall it.”
His “Big Cat” nickname was due to the fact of getting so nimble for his sizing.
Dallas gained a further Tremendous Bowl in 1977, but Wright played only two online games that year due to the fact of knee medical procedures. He had performed in 95 of the team’s 98 normal-time games, starting 94 of them, the prior 7 seasons.
Immediately after Wright started only 16 of his 31 games in 1978 and 1979, he was introduced by the Cowboys the next spring. He signed with NFC East rival Philadelphia, but officially retired mainly because of lingering injuries early in education camp devoid of taking part in a game for the Eagles.
Wright was diagnosed with early phase dementia in 2012, but had prolonged been plagued by seizures given that his retirement. He considered they have been from the outcomes of ongoing blows to the head though taking part in football. He had extended hidden working with problems, dizziness and, at situations, unexplained irritability and forgetfulness.
In a 2014 job interview with The New York Moments, Wright mentioned he incurred so lots of concussions throughout his NFL profession that he could not even count them.
When ultimately inducted into the Hall of Fame more than a quarter century after his last video game, Wright was offered in Canton, Ohio, by longtime Fort Valley Point out football coach Stan Lomax.
Wright didn’t even make his substantial college football group for 3 a long time in Griffin, Georgia, right before he went to Fort Valley State in his property state to engage in basketball. The next summer season, Lomax manufactured him stop his summer time occupation at a mill to get prepared to be a part of the football staff.
Lomax tried using Wright at cost-free security, then utilised him as a punter, defensive finish and limited end. The coach also became a father determine to Wright, who was picked by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1967 NFL draft.
Wright however chosen basketball, however he turned down an supply soon after his junior period to indicator with the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals, the franchise that is now the Sacramento Kings, so that he could finish university.
His sights were still set on the NBA when Cowboys player staff director Gil Brandt identified as and stated the team was fascinated in drafting him.
“I recognized that likely, enjoying for the Cowboys, was a God-presented chance, and I couldn’t dismiss it. I determined to attend the Cowboys’ instruction camp which was in July. The Royals camp failed to start off till August,” Wright said in his Corridor of Fame speech. “I form of figured that if I did not make the Cowboys group, I could go right to the NBA.”
Wright claimed Brandt was “signing all people that could walk” and that he was among 137 rookies in the Cowboys’ schooling camp in 1967. He was a person of five that made the workforce.
Wright was a backup tackle the 1st two months of the 1969 year, then thrust into the starting off career when Ralph Neely bought damage. His first start out came when Dallas, then 8-1, played at the 9- Los Angeles Rams with their Fearsome Foursome protection.
“We go up to the line of scrimmage and I’m on the lookout at Deacon Jones square in his eyes, his eyes seem to be purple as hearth, he’s kicking his again leg like a bull,” Wright afterwards recalled. “I am indicating to myself, ‘My God, what have I acquired myself into?'”
Before the ball was snapped, Jones bellowed, “Boy, does your Mama know you out right here?” Wright was so surprised that Jones ran around him.
“I rolled in excess of, appeared around at our sideline imagining that mentor Landry was going to acquire me out of the activity,” Wright claimed. “By that time, Deacon Jones reached his large arms down and stated, ‘Hey, rookie, welcome to the NFL.’ … I stated, ‘Well, Mr. Jones, you will not know my Mama, so do not converse about her. You want to enjoy the recreation this way, we are going to enjoy it.'”
The Rams received 24-23, but Wright received a activity ball for the job he wound up performing from Jones. Their duels over the several years went a long way towards making Wright’s status.
Dallas by no means had a dropping record in Wright’s 13 seasons, a span that incorporated 8 NFC Championship Online games and those people 5 Tremendous Bowl appearances. He was section of the NFL’s all-10 years group for the 1970s.
Facts from The Involved Push was utilised in this report.