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Richard Wood
Personal Information
Position(s)
Linebacker
Jersey #(s)
58, 54
Born May 31 1953 (1953-05-31) (age 64)
Career information
Year(s) 19751984
NFL Draft 1975 / Round: 3 / Pick: 68
College Southern California
Professional teams
Career stats
Games played - started 146 - 94
Interceptions 9
Fumble recoveries 6
Stats at NFL.com
Career highlights and awards

Richard Marlon Wood (born May 31, 1953 in Elizabeth, New Jersey) is a former American football All-American linebacker who played for Thomas Jefferson High School in Elizabeth, the USC Trojans, and the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League. He was the team captain and leading tackler of the Buccaneers' early, John McKay-coached teams.

College careerEdit

Wood attended the University of Southern California where he was a three time All-American for the USC Trojans (1972-1974 seasons). The USC Trojans won two National Championships during Wood's playing years. Wood was modest-sized for a NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly NCAA Division I-A) middle linebacker, but made up for the lack of bulk with lightning speed, game stamina, and a fondness for violent tackles. His trademark "Batman" 'band of black' painted across his nose and around both eyes, as those eyes peered out from his helmet, was celebrated by his teammates, the sports press, and Trojan football fans, and was a gesture to intimidate opponent team linemen and ballcarriers.

Wood came to the varsity as a sophomore in 1972 and not only led the undefeated Trojans in tackles, he surpassed the total of his closest teammate by 30 stops and was also given the responsibility of calling the defensive signals. Wood had five interceptions, returning one for a touchdown and deflected four other passes. For his efforts he gained first-team All-America status. In his junior year he once again led USC to a conference title and another trip to the Rose Bowl. He was a consensus All-American in 1973. In 1974, Wood was part of his second victorious Rose Bowl and national title team. He repeated as a consensus All-America choice. While at USC the Trojans amassed a 31-3-2 record. In 2007 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

Professional careerEdit

Wood was selected by the New York Jets in the third round of the 1975 NFL Draft, but experienced a difficult rookie season. Charges of having received stolen airline tickets damaged his public reputation, even after he was exonerated. He also had trouble fitting into a Jets locker room atmosphere that he considered to be cold and unfriendly. A preseason trade to the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers reunited him with his former USC coach, John McKay, and placed him in a more favorable situation. With the Buccaneers, he became a key player on one of the league's best defensive units. After moving into the starting lineup during the 1976 season, he started 88 consecutive games before being replaced by Scot Brantley in 1982. He averaged 136 tackles per season as a starter, and his single-game high of 18 tackles remains tied as the team record. As of 2012, he ranks sixth all-time among Buccaneer defenders with 855 career tackles. His two defensive touchdowns in 1977, one of which occurred during the franchise's first-ever victory, established a franchise record that stood until 1990. With Ronde Barber and Derrick Brooks, he is one of three Buccaneers to have scored on both a fumble and an interception return in the same season. Wood was captain of the 1979 squad that advanced to the NFC Championship game.

When the incoming Leeman Bennett coaching regime declined to renew his contract in 1985, Wood joined the USFL Jacksonville Bulls, where he was considered one of the league's most important signings. He returned to the Buccaneers in the early 1990s as an assistant defensive coach under head coach Sam Wyche. Wood was fired by Wyche after the 1993 season, but returned to serve as honorary captain for the coin toss of the NFC Championship game that resulted in their appearance in Super Bowl XXXVII. He served as an assistant coach with the Amsterdam Crusaders and the Munich Cowboys before taking the head coaching position at Tampa's Wharton High School in 1998, and coached that program to a state final game in the sixth year of its existence. In 2003, he accepted a defensive line coach position with the Frankfurt Galaxy of NFL Europe. As of 2011, he is an assistant coach at Tampa's George D. Chamberlain High School.

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