Wally Triplett broke standards. He'll go down as a hero, as he was the first African-American player to ever be drafted to play in the NFL. He was a star at Penn State before going pro.
Unfortunately, sad news has arrived. Triplett has passed away at the age of 92.
The Penn State Football family is extremely saddened to hear about the passing of Nittany Lion great & trailblazer, Wally Triplett. Wally will forever be admired for the history he made at Penn State & beyond.— Penn State Football (@PennStateFball) November 8, 2018
Forevermore, We Are…
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Triplett's extraordinary life blazed beyond that of the gridiron.
Penn State gave the running back a chance in 1945, something unheard of in the sport. He continued on to have a legendary tenure with the Nittany Lions. Triplett and fellow teammate Dennie Hoggard went on to be the first African Americans to play in the Cotton Bowl. Coach of Penn State at the time, Bob Higgins, refused to take offers from any bowl that banned the presence of the two stars.
His breaking of standards didn't stop there. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1948, making him the first African American to be drafted into the NFL. He went on to break the record for most return yards in a game with 294 in 1950, a record still held by Triplett.
But, being a hero on the field wasn't enough for the Pennsylvania native. After two years in the NFL, he went on to serve in the Korean War. He returned to the NFL years later, playing with the Chicago Cardinals.
Fearless, Triplett stretched beyond the norm. A hero for every player.
Rest in peace, Wally Triplett.