Rayfield Wright, a tricky, agile Corridor of Fame offensive deal with for the Dallas Cowboys who was on 5 Tremendous Bowl groups within the Seventies, then suffered from dementia for not less than a decade, which he believed was most probably brought on by repeated blows to the pinnacle, died on Thursday. He was 76.
The Professional Soccer Corridor of Fame introduced his loss of life and mentioned he had been hospitalized for a number of days due to a seizure. It didn’t say the place he died.
Wright incurred quite a few concussions between 1967 and 1979 — “so many who I couldn’t even depend them,” he informed The New York Instances in 2014. Like many former gamers, he struggled together with his reminiscence, cognitive issues and complications.
“Typically I stroll into the kitchen and neglect why I went there,” he mentioned. “I’ve gotten into a number of automotive accidents due to seizures. Totaled two vehicles. My reminiscence just isn’t good. There’s a giant combat inside myself.”
At 6-foot-7 and about 255 kilos, Wright was a towering presence at proper deal with, defending the scrambling quarterback Roger Staubach and creating holes within the line of defense for working backs like Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas and Tony Dorsett.
“I like blocking, I like the contact,” Wright, who was nicknamed the Large Cat for his athleticism, informed The Fort Price Star-Telegram in 1973. “There’s quite a lot of satisfaction in figuring out that you simply’re shifting your man out of there. However the greatest satisfaction of all was to place my man on the bottom. I’m on high of him, and the ball service is 10 to fifteen yards downfield.”
Wright was a first-team All-Professional 3 times, chosen for the Professional Bowl in six consecutive years and named to the N.F.L.’s all-decade workforce of the Seventies. He was inducted into the Corridor of Fame, in Canton, Ohio, in 2006.
Carl Eller, the Minnesota Vikings defensive finish who was one in all Wright’s fiercest opponents and who’s himself a Corridor of Famer, informed The Related Press earlier than Wright’s induction, “An all-day combat with Rayfield Wright is certainly not my thought of a nice Sunday afternoon.”
At Tremendous Bowl VI in 1972, the Cowboys gathered 252 yards in speeding — a Tremendous Bowl report on the time — on the way in which to a 24-3 victory over the Miami Dolphins. It was one in all two Tremendous Bowl victories for the Cowboys within the Seventies; additionally they misplaced 3 times.
“What we did at this time is the way in which you’re imagined to play this sport,” Wright informed The Dayton Each day Information. “Who’s going to regulate issues up entrance — that’s what counts, every thing else being equal.”
He added, “We managed them on the road, and that’s what did it.”
Larry Rayfield Wright was born on Aug. 23, 1945, in Griffin, Ga., about 35 miles south of Atlanta, and raised by his mom, Opel Wright, and one in all his grandmothers. A Boy Scout, he recalled memorizing Robert Frost’s poem “The Highway Not Taken” when he was within the eighth grade, and he mentioned it guided him to imagine that life supplied him selections.
In highschool, he excelled in basketball however didn’t make the soccer workforce till his senior yr. Taking part in basketball for Fort Valley State Faculty (now College) in Georgia, he averaged 20 factors and 21 rebounds a sport and attracted the curiosity of the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) of the Nationwide Basketball Affiliation. He was additionally a free security, punter, defensive finish and tight finish for the soccer workforce and was chosen by Dallas as a decent finish within the 1967 N.F.L. draft.
“He was an amazing competitor, gifted and good, and he might run; you could possibly have gotten away with taking part in him at broad receiver,” Gil Brandt, the Cowboys’ former director of participant personnel, mentioned in a cellphone interview.
Wright had been a backup tight finish for the Cowboys for 2 seasons when Coach Tom Landry moved him to proper deal with to interchange the injured Ralph Neely. In his first begin on the place, in 1969, he confronted Deacon Jones, the dreaded Los Angeles Rams defensive finish.
“Hey, boy,” he later recalled Jones’s greeting. “Do your mama know you’re out right here?”
“What does my mama have something to do with this?” Wright recalled pondering to himself, which distracted him sufficient to momentarily lose his focus when the ball was snapped. Jones promptly slapped his enormous proper hand in opposition to Wright’s helmet, sending him reeling backward to the turf.
“It was as if I’d simply been hit within the head by a baseball bat,” he informed The Instances.
It was in all probability his first concussion, he mentioned, incurred at a time when the N.F.L. didn’t take head trauma significantly and gamers had been inspired to return to motion as quickly as doable.
Wright continued to play at a excessive degree for many of the subsequent 10 years, till leg issues diminished his effectiveness. He was launched by the Cowboys in 1980 and signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, however he retired earlier than he performed a sport with them.
His survivors embrace his spouse, Di; his daughters, Courtney Minor, Anitra Hernandez and Ariel Wright; his sons, Laray and Larry Jr.; and his brother, Lamar.
In retirement, Wright was a motivational speaker and shaped a basis to assist kids get grants to go to varsity.
He was recognized with dementia in 2012. That yr, he and a bunch of former Cowboys joined 1000’s of different retired gamers in submitting concussion-related lawsuits in opposition to the N.F.L. that accused the league of hiding the hyperlinks between repeated head hits and degenerative mind illness from the gamers.
They had been consolidated right into a class-action go well with in federal courtroom that was settled in 2015, offering funds of as much as $5 million to particular person gamers who’ve one in all a handful of extreme neurological and cognitive problems.
“I’m scared,” Wright mentioned of his dementia within the 2014 Instances interview. “I don’t need this to occur.” Wiping away a tear, he added, “I simply need to know why that is occurring to me.”