In an era gone by the St Louis Cardinals were a football team that had little success in the 1960s and early 70s. For the most part the cupboard was bare when it came to talent on their roster. However amidst the mediocrity there were two standouts that played for them: Hall of Fame members TE Jackie Smith and FS Larry Wilson. Sometimes great champions don’t come from championship teams.
As a safety he played with reckless abandon although he was a ball hawk. When you think of hard-hitting defensive backs you rarely think of them making interceptions. Over his career he intercepted 52 passes which is still a Cardinal record and returned them for five touchdowns. He was a tough as nails player who in 1965, once played with two broken hands with each in a cast. Think about that for a second… His job is to come up and take on runners in the open field or defend the pass and he was playing with broken hands?? That is wanting to play football!!
Early on in his career, he was a pioneer when it came to the safety blitz. A tactic not seen before in the NFL. He registered many sacks although it wasn’t a recorded statistic until 1982. Wilson was everywhere…deep one play, shadowing a TE the next, blitzing the quarterback, or coming up to take on enemy runners. He did not shy away from contact and earned the ultimate respect of his peers. He was voted to (at the time) a record 8 Pro Bowls, made All Pro 8 times, and was the only player selected to the All Decade Team for the 1960s and 1970s. The Cardinals retired his #8 and he was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. As for his hitting we present to you exhibit A