FRISCO, Texas – Rayfield Wright, one of the greatest players in Dallas Cowboys franchise history, passed away Thursday night. Wright was 76 years old. He had been hospitalized for several days following a severe seizure.
"Over the past few weeks, it has become abundantly clear the love that so many Hall of Famers and others around the NFL felt toward Rayfield, his wife, Di, and the extended Wright family," Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said.
Wright will go down as one of the all-time greatest players, and specifically offensive linemen, to wear a Cowboys uniform. Along with Larry Allen, he is one of just two offensive linemen in the team's Ring of Honor, as well as the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The credentials speak for themselves. After being drafted No. 182 overall in the 1967 NFL Draft, Wright appeared in 166 games, making 114 starts. He was named first-team All-Pro three times and made six Pro Bowls, ensuring him a spot on the NFL's 1970s All-Decade Team. He played on five Super Bowl teams, helping the Cowboys bring home championships in Super Bowls VI and XII.
"Rayfield Wright was the epitome of what it takes to be a Hall of Famer," Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones said in a statement. "His grit, his agility, his passion, his charisma and his love for football, the community and his family always shined through. The original 'Big Cat' helped shape the future of the Dallas Cowboys through his illustrious 13-year playing career. Rayfield was a champion on and off the field. He remained an important part of the Cowboys family long after his playing days ended, and he will be deeply missed. Our love and support go out to his wife, Di, and the entire Wright family."
Originally a two-sport star in college, Wright excelled at both football and basketball during his time at Fort Valley State. He initially intended to play basketball professionally, but the Cowboys' front office led by Gil Brandt and Tom Landry, opted to select him in the seventh round of that year's draft.
Although he initially played tight end with some defensive line snaps mixed in, Wright eventually moved to offensive tackle ahead of his third season and remained there.
Wright was the first offensive lineman inducted into both the Ring of Honor and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, cementing his status as one of the most important figures in Dallas Cowboys history.