From the Arizona Cardinals:
Larry Wilson, the Cardinals’ Hall of Fame safety whose play made popular the safety blitz in the NFL and who worked for the franchise for more than 30 years after his playing days, died Thursday night. He was 82.
Drafted in the seventh round in 1960, the 6-foot, 190-pound Wilson emerged as the best defensive player – and, until Larry Fitzgerald arrived, arguably the best player period – to ever play for the Cardinals.
“In a football game, you’ve only got 60 minutes to prove what kind of player you are,” Wilson once said. “Forty-nine minutes aren’t enough. You’ve got to give 100% on every play.”
Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said that aside from his father, Bill Bidwill, Wilson was “the most influential male figure in my life.”
“He was someone who truly lived his faith and demonstrated it daily in the kindness he showed every single person he met,” Bidwill said. “Any of us lucky enough to be in his orbit – whether that was for a few minutes or four decades – was always better off from the experience. I will remember Larry Wilson first as a fantastic person but then obviously as one of the greatest players the National Football League has ever seen…. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE
Statement from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell:
For more than 40 years, Larry Wilson played a remarkable role in the history of the Cardinals and National Football League as a Hall of Fame player and team executive.
While he will be recognized for his toughness and excellence on the field and his many contributions to the Cardinals organization, we will also remember Larry as loyal, humble and kind to everyone he met. Larry enriched the lives of many players and colleagues around the league.
Larry helped revolutionize the safety position in his 13 years as the versatile anchor of the Cardinals’ defense. He popularized the safety blitz in the 1960’s and also recorded 52 interceptions. His toughness and football instincts earned him recognition as one of the greatest to ever play the game. Larry was named to both the NFL’s 75th and 100th season all-time teams. Following his retirement on the field in 1972, Larry remained with the team for 30 years in a variety of roles through his retirement as the Cardinals’ Vice President in 2003.
We extend our deepest condolences to his wife Nancy, daughter Christie, and son Larry, Jr., his friends and the Cardinals organization.
Photos courtesy Arizona Cardinals.