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Willie Wood (American football)

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Willie Wood (American football)

Willie Wood
No. 24
Position: Safety
Personal information
Date of birth: (1936-12-23) December 23, 1936
Place of birth: Washington, D.C.
Career information
College: USC
Undrafted: 1960
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Interceptions: 48
Interception yards: 699
Touchdowns: 2
Stats at
Pro Football Hall of Fame

William Vernell Wood Sr. (born December 23, 1936) is a former American football safety for the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League (NFL).


  • College career 1
  • NFL career 2
  • Coaching career 3
  • Personal 4
  • NFL career statistics 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

College career

Wood played for the USC Trojans, where he was the first African American quarterback in the history of the Pacific-12 Conference.

NFL career

Out of the University of Southern California, Wood was not drafted by any National Football League team. He had to try out before the Packers signed him as a free agent in 1960. He was recast as a free safety, and was a starter in the season. He started until his retirement in 1971.

Wood won All-NFL honors nine times in a nine-year stretch from 1962 through the 1971 season, participated in the Pro Bowl eight times, and played in six NFL championship games, winning all except the first one in 1960.

Wood was the starting free safety for the Packers in Super Bowl I against the Kansas City Chiefs and Super Bowl II against the Oakland Raiders. In Super Bowl I, he recorded a key interception that helped the Packers put the game away in the second half. In Super Bowl II, he returned five punts for 35 yards, including a 31-yard return that stood as the record for longest punt return in a Super Bowl until Darrell Green's 34-yard return in Super Bowl XVIII. He won the NFL interception title in 1962 and the league punt return championship.

Wood finished his 12 NFL seasons with 48 interceptions, which he returned for 699 yards and two touchdowns. He also gained 1,391 yards and scored two touchdowns on 187 punt returns. He holds the record for the most consecutive starts by a safety in NFL history.

Wood was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989.

Coaching career

In 1973, just two years removed from his days as a player), Willie was named the head coach of the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League (WFL). This made him the first African-American head coach in professional football of the modern era. Willie was also a head coach in the Canadian Football League (CFL) with the Toronto Argonauts. When he was hired by the Argonauts in 1980, he also became the first black head coach in the CFL.


Wood has a son, Willie Wood, Jr., who played for (1992–1993) and later coached the

External links

  1. ^ Maske, Mark (16 March 2007). "He's in Need, but Too Proud to Beg". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 
  2. ^ Stewart, Nikita (21 March 2012). "NW block named for former NFL standout Willie Wood". Washington Post. Retrieved 11 April 2012. 


See also

Wood was also a punt returner throughout his career, averaging 7.4 yards per return in 187 attempts and scoring two touchdowns, both in 1961. He also had three kickoff returns for 20 yards (6.7 average) and kicked twice, missing a field goal and converting an extra point.

Year Games INT Yards TD
1960 12 0 0 0
1961 14 5 52 0
1962 14 9 132 0
1963 14 5 67 0
1964 14 3 73 1
1965 14 6 65 0
1966 14 3 38 1
1967 14 4 60 0
1968 14 2 54 0
1969 14 3 40 0
1970 14 7 110 0
1971 14 1 8 0
Totals 166 48 699 2

NFL career statistics

In March 2012, a block of N Street NW in Washington, D.C. was named "Willie Wood Way."[2]


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