One day after celebrating his 60th birthday, former Dallas Cowboys tackle Rayfield Wright received a belated birthday present. On Wednesday, he learned that he had been selected as a finalist for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2006.
Wright and Oakland Raiders coach John Madden have been selected by the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Seniors Committee as finalists for election into the Hall of Fame with the Class of 2006.
“I don't think I could have had a better birthday present than this phone call," Wright commented today.
Madden and Wright will join 13 still-to-be-named modern-era candidates on the list of finalists from which the Class of 2006 will be selected. The Hall of Fame selection meeting will be held on February 4, 2006, the day before Super Bowl XL in Detroit, Michigan.
“Making the list is very, very big,” said Madden. Moments earlier he exclaimed, “I can’t even speak, I’m so happy.”
To be elected, Madden and Wright must each receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists. The Hall’s 39-member Board of Selectors will elect between three and six new members during next February’s meeting.
Madden, at age 32, became one of the youngest head coaches in National Football League history when the Raiders hired him in 1969. Over the next 10 seasons as Oakland’s coach, he compiled a 112-39-7 overall record. His .759 winning percentage during the regular season ranks as the highest ever among coaches with 100 career victories.
In his first year at the helm, Madden led the Raiders to a 12-1-1 record and an American Football League Western Division title. His achievements that season were recognized as he was named the AFL’s coach of the year.
Under Madden’s direction from 1969 to 1978, Oakland never suffered a losing record, claimed seven division titles and had eight playoff appearances.
In 1976, Madden guided Oakland to a 13-1 record to win the AFC Western Division. The success continued in the post-season with wins over New England in the divisional playoff game and a commanding 24-7 victory over Pittsburgh in the AFC championship. Madden and the Raiders capped the season with a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
Wright, a 6’6”, 255-pound lineman from Fort Valley State was selected by the Cowboys in the seventh round of the 1967 draft. He was used as a tight end, defensive lineman, and offensive tackle during his first three seasons. Then, in 1969, Wright earned his first chance as a starter when he was inserted into the lineup following an injury to right tackle Ralph Neely.
Wright's performance was strong enough that he won a starting role before the start of the 1970 training camp. One season later, he earned his first All-NFL honor and was voted to the first of six straight Pro Bowls. Wright was named first- or second-team All-Pro each season from 1971 through 1976.
During his 13-season, 166-game career, Wright and the Cowboys won 10 division titles, six conference crowns, and two Super Bowls. He started at right tackle in six NFC championship games and played in five Super Bowls.
In addition, Wright was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
Senior nominees 1972-2005
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