Wright, in his gold Hall of Fame jacket.
|Date of birth:||August 23, 1945|
|Place of birth:||Griffin, Georgia|
|Height:||6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)|
|Weight:||255 lb (116 kg)|
|High school:||Griffin (GA) Fairmont|
|College:||Fort Valley State|
|NFL draft:||1967 / Round: 7 / Pick: 182|
|Career highlights and awards|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Stats at NFL.com|
High school and college years
He went to Fort Valley State College to play basketball, where he was a standout player. The following summer, head 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 Wright.
Wright was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1967 NFL Draft as a tight end. During his first three years with Dallas, the six-foot-seven, 225-pound "Big Cat" was 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 in his first start was Los Angeles Rams future Hall of Fame defensive end David 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 13 seasons, Wright played more than 200 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-Pro 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 seven 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. He 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.
"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."
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.
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 and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. In 2006, he was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was officially inducted, with introduction by college coach Leon J. "Stan" Lomax, during the Enshrinement Ceremony on August 6, 2006 where his bust, sculpted by Scott Myers, was unveiled.
He was also inducted into the State of Georgia Hall of Fame, the Fort Valley Georgia Hall of Fame and the Griffin Georgia Hall of Fame.
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, along with fellow former-Cowboy teammate, Cliff Harris.
Wright founded the Rayfield Wright Foundation, which helps children obtain grants to attend college. Wright authored and published his autobiography titled "Wright Up Front".
In recent years Wright has battled with early-onset dementia, the result of numerous head injuries he says he had in 13 seasons, more than 180 regular-season and playoff games from 1967 to 1979, with the Cowboys.