Wally Triplett, NFL's First African-American Player, Dead at 92

Wally Triplett, 1st African-American to be drafted and play in NFL, dies at 92

Wally Triplett, 1st African-American to be drafted and play in NFL, dies at 92

"We fondly reflect on his great achievements and send our heartfelt condolences to the Triplett family". He was drafted out of Penn State by the Detroit Lions in 1949.

Triplett was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1949 and spent two seasons with the Lions. He set an National Football League record with 294 return yards in a single game, which stood for 44 years and remains a record for the franchise. One of his greatest achievements came on October 29, 1950, on special teams. He also gained 496 yards from scrimmage. During his time at Penn State he had a career punt-return average of 16.5 yards and has the fourth-longest punt return in school history, at 85 yards. The record stood for 44 years and is still third all-time.

On November 15, 1950, a little more than two weeks following his record-breaking effort, Triplett was assigned to the 594th Field Artillery Battalion after being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served for two years and finished his career with the Chicago Cardinals from 1952-53.

Triplett was a trailblazer even before he entered the NFL.

If Penn State were to play in the game, no African-American players would be allowed to participate.

While at Penn State, he was part of the team that helped bring the "WE ARE!" chant to the university as part of how they overcame racial discrimination.

Triplett was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame earlier this year.

During his final three seasons at Penn State, Triplett was instrumental in the team registering a record of 23-3-2, which included an unbeaten record of 9-0-1 in 1947.

A native of La Mott, Pa., Triplett was a three-sport athlete in high school starring in football, basketball and baseball at Cheltenham High School.

NOTE: While Triplett was only the third African-American to be selected in the 1949 NFL Draft, he was the first of the drafted players to take the field in a regular season game. He is survived by children Nancy, Alison and David, grandchildren Ayanna (Rob), Amber, Cory, Francis, Brandon and Arron, and great-grandchildren Kennedie, Robert Andrew Wallace, Jordan, Naomi and Ryan. He was Penn State football's first African-American starter, the first African American to earn a varsity letter at Penn State, and the first African American Penn Stater to be drafted into the NFL.

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