WILLIE WOOD

WILLIE WOOD

Class of 1989
Safety >>> 5-10, 190
(Southern California)
1960-1971 Green Bay Packers

William Vernell Wood. . .Signed as free agent, 1960. . .Soon developed into premier free safety. . .Played in six NFL championships, Super Bowls I, II, eight Pro Bowls. . .All-NFL six times. . .50-yard interception return key play in Super Bowl I. . . Career record: 48 interceptions, 699 yards, 2 TDs; 187 punt returns, 1,391 yards, 2 TDs. . .Led NFL in punt returns (1961), interceptions (1962). . .Born December 23, 1936, in Washington, D.C.

Willie Wood is another of the talented athletes who teamed to give Green Bay pro football dominance in the 1960s. Yet the 5-10, 190-pound University of Southern California quarterback who specialized in running the ball, was not drafted by any National Football League team.

He had to seek a tryout and prove his worth before the Packers accepted him as a free agent in 1960. Within a short time, Willie was recognized as a premier free safety in the NFL. He became a starter in his sophomore 1961 season and held that job for more than a decade until his retirement following the 1971 campaign.

Wood, who was born in Washington, D. C., won first- or second-team All-NFL honors nine times in a nine-year stretch from 1962 through the 1970 season. A Pro Bowl participant eight times, 1963, 1965 through 1971, Wood also played in six NFL championship games. The Packers won all but the first one in 1960.

 Willie also was the starting free safety for Green Bay in Super Bowl I against the Kansas City Chiefs and Super Bowl II against the Oakland Raiders. His 50-yard interception return of a Len Dawson pass early in the third quarter of Super Bowl I broke open a close contest and paved the way for the Packers’ 35-10 triumph over the Chiefs.

Like many Packers who had a chance to handle the football, Wood compiled impressive statistics with 48 career interceptions, which he returned for 699 yards and two touchdowns. He won the NFL interception title in 1962 with nine steals. Doubling on the punt return team, Willie also won the league punt return championship with a 16.1-yard average in 1961. In 12 years, he carried back 187 punts for 1,391 yards and two touchdowns.

Year
Team
G
Int
Yds.
Avg.
TD
FumRec.
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1960 Green Bay
12
0
0
0.0
0
0
16
106
6.6
0
1961 Green Bay
14
5
52
10.4
0
5
14
225
16.1
2
1962 Green Bay
14
9
132
14.7
0
0
23
273
11.9
0
1963 Green Bay
14
5
67
13.4
0
4
19
169
8.9
0
1964 Green Bay
14
3
73
24.3
1
2
19
252
13.3
0
1965 Green Bay
14
6
65
10.8
0
2
13
38
2.9
0
1966 Green Bay
14
3
38
12.7
1
0
22
82
3.7
0
1967 Green Bay
14
4
60
15.0
0
0
12
3
0.3
0
1968 Green Bay
14
2
54
27.0
0
0
26
126
4.8
0
1969 Green Bay
14
3
40
13.3
0
1
8
38
4.8
0
1970 Green Bay
14
7
110
15.7
0
1
11
58
5.3
0
1971 Green Bay
14
1
8
8.0
0
1
4
21
5.3
0
Career Total
166
48
699
14.6
2
16
187
1391
7.4
2
Additional Career Statistics: Kicking: 0-1 FG, 1-1 XP; Kickoff Returns: 3-20

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