Packers legend, Pro Football Hall of Fame safety Willie Wood dies at age 83

Willie Wood's interception changed the complexion of Super Bowl I. With the Packers protecting a 14-10 lead against the AFL champion Chiefs, Wood's 50-yard interception of Len Dawson set up Elijah Pitts' five-yard touchdown run. The Packers would never lose the momentum, defeating the Chiefs 35-10 en route to their fourth of five championship wins during the 1960s.

On Monday, less than 24 hours removed from the playing of Super Bowl LIV, the Packers announced that Wood, a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, had died. He was 83 years old. 

Packers president/CEO Mark Murphy issued a statement via the team's Twitter handle.

"The Green Bay Packers family lost a legend today with the passing of Willie Wood. Wood's success story, rising from an undrafted rookie free agent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, is an inspiration to generations of football fans. 

"While his health challenges kept him from returning to Lambeau Field in recent years, his alumni weekend visits were cherished by both Willie and our fans. We extend our deepest condolences to Willie's family and friends." 

Before coming to the Packers, Wood played quarterback at USC and was the first African American quarterback to play in the Pacific Coast Conference, which is now known as the Pac-12 Conference.

Wood joined the Packers in 1960 and broke into Green Bay's starting lineup the following season, recording five interceptions while helping the Packers win their first championship under head coach Vince Lombardi. From 1964-70, Wood earned seven Pro Bowl selections and five All-Pro nods while helping the Packers win four more championships that included three straight titles from 1965-67. A member of the 1960s All-Decade Team, Wood is also a member of the Packers' Hall of Fame.

"The Game has lost a true Legend with the passing of Willie Wood," Pro Football Hall of Fame president/CEO David Backer said in a statement. "He had an unbelievable football career which helped transform Green Bay, Wisconsin into Titletown U.S.A. Willie was a rare player who always fought to be a great teammate and achieve success. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent and became one of the greatest to ever play the Game.

"The Hall of Fame will forever keep his legacy alive to serve as inspiration to future generations."

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Willie Wood tackles fellow Hall of Famer, running back Gale Sayers, during a game between the Packers and Bears during the 1960s. Getty Images

Wood, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1989, spent his entire 12-year career with the Packers, recording 48 interceptions in 166 career regular season games, holding the NFL record for most consecutive starts by a safety. Wood enjoyed enjoyed success as a punt returner, as he led the NFL with two punt returns for scores in 1961. He also led the league with a 13.3 yards per return average during the 1964 season.

Along with Wood, the 1960s Packers include Lombardi, Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr, fullback Jim Taylor, OT Forrest Gregg, LB Ray Nitschke, CB Herb Adderley, DE Willie Davis, center Jim Ringo, halfback Paul Hornung, DT Henry Jordan, LB David Robinson, and offensive guard Jerry Kramer. The '60s Packers remain the last NFL team to win three consecutive championships.

Wood's post-playing life included nearly a decade as a coach that included three seasons as the Chargers' assistant coach during the early '70s.

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