Pro Football Hall of Fame safety, former Packers star Willie Wood passes away
Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Willie Wood, who played for the Packers from 1960-71, passed away Monday afternoon in Washington, D.C. Wood was 83.
“The Green Bay Packers Family lost a legend today with the passing of Willie Wood,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “Willie’s success story, rising from an undrafted rookie free agent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is an inspiration to generations of football fans. While his health challenges kept him from returning to Lambeau Field in recent years, his alumni weekend visits were cherished by both Willie and our fans. We extend our deepest condolences to Willie’s family and friends.”
Unheralded coming out of Southern California in 1960, Wood sent postcards to several NFL teams asking for a tryout. He ended up signing with the Packers as a rookie free agent and started at free safety on five NFL championship teams. An Associated Press All-Pro five straight years from 1964-68, he also was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, was named to the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team and was one of two safeties chosen on the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team in 1990.
Wood broke open a close contest in the third quarter of Super Bowl I, intercepting a Len Dawson pass and returning it 50 yards to the Kansas City Chiefs' 5. An author of 48 career interceptions, Wood won the NFL title in 1962 with nine thefts. A gifted returner, he also led the league in punt returns in 1961 with a 16.1-yard average. He was one of only 16 undrafted free agents to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Wood played college football in the one-platoon era and doubled as a quarterback and defensive back.
Wood was born Dec. 23, 1936, in Washington, D.C.