Larry Wilson-The First Safety to Blitz

Larry Wilson played 13 years for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1960 to 1972.  Starting in 1961, he began the risky practice of blitzing the quarterback.   When this works, it is a real menace to the offense.  The NFL did not keep records of sacks before 1982.  Wilson’s record of hurries and sacks on quarterbacks is lost;  but there were quite a few and won the Cardinals some games over Wilson’s career.  On occasion, opposing teams burned the Cardinals since the safety blitz sacrifices coverage.  Even so, Larry Wilson pioneered a common practice in the NFL today.  Some say he is the greatest player in the Cardinals’ long history.

Larry Wilson was an eight time Pro Bowler and a five time All Pro.  Wilson intercepted 52 passes for 800 yards in returns and five touchdowns. His best season was 1966 when he intercepted  10 passes for 180 yards.  LW longest returns on interceptions were for 96 and 91 yards, both for touchdowns.  Wilson also recovered 14 fumbled  for 173 yards in returns and two touchdowns.  These two scores were on runs of 42 and 88 yards.

Larry Wilson was a good tackler, with great hands, and always seemed to be near the ball.  He was also the Cardinals holder for field goals and extra points.   Wilson is in the Hall of Fame in Canton, OH.


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