TEMPE, Ariz. — Larry Wilson, a former St. Louis Cardinals safety and member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has died. He was 82.
Wilson died Thursday evening, according to a news release from the Arizona Cardinals.
Wilson played his entire on-field career (1960-72) with St. Louis and spent more than 43 years in the Cardinals’ organization as a player and an executive.
“For more than 40 years, Larry Wilson played a remarkable role in the history of the Cardinals and National Football League as a Hall of Fame player and team executive,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “While he will be recognized for his toughness and excellence on the field and his many contributions to the Cardinals organization, we will also remember Larry as loyal, humble and kind to everyone he met. Larry enriched the lives of many players and colleagues around the league.”
A seventh-round draft pick out of Utah in 1960, Wilson played 13 seasons with the Cardinals. He was an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and was a first-team All Pro five times.
Wilson was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame and was on both the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversary teams. He holds franchise records with 52 career interceptions and 800 interception return yards. His seven straight games with an interception in 1966 are second-most in NFL history.
“Larry Wilson was the kindest, most humble person that I will ever know,” Wilson’s wife, Nancy, said in a statement released through the team. “To most, he was this ferocious and fierce football player who some described as pound for pound the toughest player of his generation. To me, he was the most generous and gentle soul you would ever meet. For Larry, it was always about everyone else and what he could do for them.”
Following his playing career, Wilson spent 30 years as a Cardinals executive, serving as director of pro scouting, director of pro personnel and a short stint as interim head coach in 1979.
Wilson was vice president and general manager from the team’s inaugural season in Arizona in 1988 until 1993. He was the team’s vice president until retiring in 2003.
Born in Rigby, Idaho, Wilson is survived by his wife of 40 years and his daughter, Christie, son Larry Jr. and numerous grandchildren.
“The game lost a true legend with the passing of Pro Football Hall of Famer Larry Wilson,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president and CEO David Baker said. “He was not only one of the greatest to ever play the game, but one of the nicest and kindest men I have ever met. The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Larry.”