NFL Legend Larry Wilson was as tough as they come

If you watched Monday Night Football’s game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Dallas Cowboys you saw the Cardinal players each wearing the numeral “8” in a black circle on the front of their jerseys. The patch is in tribute to All-Pro safety Larry Wilson who played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1960-1972. Wilson died last month at the age of 82.

Decades ago I read that Wilson once played with two broken hands. It’s true.

Unknown date 1965; St. Louis, MO, USA; FILE PHOTO; St. Louis Cardinals defensive back Larry Wilson in the locker room shown with casts on both hands at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Herb Weitman-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: USA TODAY Sports

In a 1965 game against Pittsburgh Wilson grabbed not one, but two interceptions.

“I just knew Larry Wilson was going to get an interception,” Steelers quarterback Bill Nelsen said back then. “Lying awake the night before the game, I was thinking there was no way he could catch one with his hands wrapped up to protect his fractures, but I knew he was going to get one.”

Earlier that season Wilson had broken the middle fingers on each hand.

“They put casts on up to my elbows and put this little wire thing over it,” Wilson said in 2015. “Back then, if you could run, you could play, and I wasn’t running on my hands.”

Wilson was named All Pro five times and was selected to eight Pro Bowls in his 13 NFL seasons, all in St. Louis. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978, a first-ballot inductee.

Wilson, who popularized the safety blitz, was selected for both the NFL’s 75th and 100th anniversary teams.

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