it was the grave marked unknown right beside
Rayfield Wright Recalls Position Switch
Rayfield Wright Recalls Position Switch
02-11-06 at 1:04PM
Rayfield Wright changed positions to try and help the Dallas Cowboys win, moving from tight end to right tackle. He remembers the first play at his new position vividly.
It wasn't pretty.
"I was thrown back into my quarterback the first time I lined up in training camp," Wright recalled Friday. "I ended on top of Craig (Morton). You can imagine what Craig was saying to me."
That was in 1970. Wright would improve to the point where he earned All-NFL honors six straight times starting in 1971, and he played in the Pro Bowl following each of those seasons.
And now, more than 26 years after he retired, the 60-year-old Wright is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
"It means so much to me," he said at a news conference in conjunction with the Pro Bowl, which will be played Sunday at Aloha Stadium in Hawaii.
"It certainly is an honor for me to be a part of this," Wright said. "When I entered the NFL, I had no idea I would be standing here today, anywhere near this place, or receiving this honor."
Wright and former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden were elected by the seniors committee after their eligibility on the regular ballot expired.
The election of four others _ quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, linebacker Harry Carson and defensive lineman Reggie White _ was announced last Saturday in Detroit. The class of 2006 will be inducted Aug. 5-6 in Canton, Ohio.
Wright, Aikman, Moon and Carson attended the news conference along with White's widow, Sara. As expected, Madden was a no-show because of his aversion to airplanes.
Wright, a seventh-round pick in the 1967 NFL draft, played 13 seasons _ all with the Cowboys.
He was a tight end and played on the defensive line before becoming a full-time right tackle. Coach Tom Landry told him upon making the change that he would have to gain some weight, and he wound up at a listed 255 pounds.
"If you believe I can help this football team by changing positions, I'll give it everything I have," Wright recalled telling Landry. "We shook hands on it."
Wright smiled when asked about the many players today who are much bigger than he was.
"That's one of the areas the game has changed, the size of the linemen," he said.
Wright said he and his teammates were told in training camp that they shouldn't weigh more than 265. If they did, they ate at the fat man's table.
"It was near the coaches," Wright said. "The coaches would watch you and what you ate. They had no idea what you were eating in your dormitory room."
Aikman said Norv Turner would be his presenter at the Hall of Fame induction ceremony next summer. Turner was fired as coach of the Oakland Raiders last month and hired as offensive coordinator by the San Francisco 49ers two weeks later.
It was as an assistant with the Cowboys that Turner impacted Aikman's career.
"Even though he was just with me for three years, I felt he got my career on track," Aikman said.
And without Turner?
"I seriously doubt I would be standing here today," Aikman said.
Carson was in his seventh year as a Hall of Fame finalist and didn't want to get his hopes up. In fact, he wrote a letter to the Hall of Fame committee two years ago asking to have his name removed from consideration.
"I saw what was happening to my family and friends, I saw the pain they were going through," he said. "That bothered me. I wanted to draw attention to the way the voting was done. I was hoping at some point Hall of Fame players would be included."
The voting panel is made up of 39 media members.
All that being said, the 52-year-old Carson said he was greatly honored and will be presented at the ceremony next summer by his 22-year-old son, Donald.
"In a way, I felt like the Susan Lucci of football," Carson said, referring to the actress whose infamous streak of 18 best actress nominations for a Daytime Emmy ended in 1999.
Moon, the Hall's first black quarterback, is a member of the Seattle Seahawks' broadcast team, so he was in Detroit last weekend for the Super Bowl.
He said he finally had a chance to reflect on his honor on the beach Thursday in Hawaii.
"I'm just glad to be here at this point in my life," he said.
White was the NFL's all-time sacks leader when he retired in 2000 _ four years before he died. His widow said the past week has been bittersweet.
"We knew Reggie would get there, we thought Reggie would be here with us," she said. "Wow, what an honor! Reggie wouldn't say it, but he deserves to be with the 235 elite people (in the Hall of Fame).
"He was just so happy when he was around the older guys. He played in a different era. That's what he always spoke about, remembering the guys before him."