Larry Wilson, a former safety for the St. Louis Cardinals (now Arizona Cardinals) and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died on Thursday night, the team announced. He was 82 years old. Wilson was also an executive for the Cardinals for 30 years, serving as a scouting director, personnel director, general manager and vice president.
"He was someone who truly lived his faith and demonstrated it daily in the kindness he showed every single person he met," Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. "Any of us lucky enough to be in his orbit – whether that was for a few minutes or four decades - was always better off from the experience. I will remember Larry Wilson first as a fantastic person but then obviously as one of the greatest players the National Football League has ever seen."
Wilson started his NFL career in 1960 which is the same year the Cardinals moved from Chicago to St. Louis. He was named to his first Pro Bowl in 1962 after posting two interceptions with one returned for a touchdown. His best season was in 1966 when he was named Defensive Player of the year after recording 10 interceptions with two defensive touchdowns. In his 13-year career, Wilson collected 52 interceptions, was named to the Pro Bowl eight times and was named to the All-Pro team seven times.
"Larry Wilson was the kindest, most humble person that I will ever know," his wife Nancy said. "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. "
Wilson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978. His jersey number 8 was retired, and it's one of the five numbers retired by the team. Wilson a member of the 1960s and 1970s All-Decade Team as well as the 75th and 100th Anniversary All-Time team. "In a football game, you've only got 60 minutes to prove what kind of player you are," Wilson said. "Forty-nine minutes aren't enough. You've got to give 100% on every play."