“The Green Bay Packers Family lost a legend today with the passing of Willie Wood,” said Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy. “Willie’s success story, rising from an undrafted rookie free agent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is an inspiration to generations of football fans. While his health challenges kept him from returning to Lambeau Field in recent years, his alumni weekend visits were cherished by both Willie and our fans. We extend our deepest condolences to Willie’s family and friends.”
Coming out of USC in 1960, Wood sent postcards to several NFL teams asking for a tryout. He ended up signing with the Packers as a rookie free agent and started at free safety on five NFL championship teams. An Associated Press All-Pro five straight years from 1964-68, he also was selected to the Pro Bowl eight times, was named to the NFL’s 1960’s All-Decade Team and was one of two safeties chosen on the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team in 1990.
Wood broke open a close contest in the third quarter of Super Bowl 1, intercepting a Len Dawson pass and returning it 50 yards to the Kansas City Chiefs’ 5. He finished his career with 48 interceptions and won the NFL title in 1962 with nine picks.
Wood is one of only 16 undrafted free agents to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.