Larry Wilson redefined what an NFL safety can do.
He doesn’t look the part, but Larry Wilson was the greatest safety in Cardinals history, and one of the best in NFL history. Standing 6’0” and weighing in at just 190 lbs, he lasted until round seven of the NFL Draft in 1960. Every other team would see he deserved to go much higher.
Wilson never had less than two interceptions in any season, and amassed 52 for his career, which is tops in team history. He’s at the top of the Cardinals list in interception return yards as well. Then there’s the impact on the league as a whole. Coaches used him as a blitzer, uncommon in his era, thus he’s one of the originators of the safety blitz. His toughness was evident in the way he played, and the way he was ready to play in every circumstance. He famously played a game with casts on both hands, and not only played, but intercepted a pass.
Players around the league respected Wilson as much as any of their peers. Jerry Kramer called him the finest football player in the NFL. He went to eight Pro Bowls, was first-team All Pro five times, was named to both the 1960’s and 70’s All Decade teams, was placed on the NFL 50th and75th Anniversary teams, and was elected to the Hall of Fame. The Cardinals retired his number and placed him into their Ring of Honor.