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Wally Triplett


1926 - 2018 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Wally Triplett (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Wally Triplett was the first black player to be drafted by an NFL team to play in an NFL game. He was drafted out of Penn State by the Detroit Lions in 1949. There were 3 black players drafted that year but Triplett was the first to play in a regular season game.

Triplett was one of the first black players on the varsity football team at Penn State. He was the first black player to participate in a Cotton Bowl game and caught the game tying touchdown pass for the Nittany Lions against SMU in the 1948 Cotton Bowl. During the 1946 season, the Penn State football team voted to not play Miami when that school told Penn State they would only play the game if Triplett and other black players on the team did not play.

Triplett was a running back and kick returner for the Detroit Lions in 1949 and 1950. He had an 80 yard TD run against the Packers his rookie season. He was drafted by the Army after the 1950 season and served in the Korean War. After his service, he played two years with the Chicago Cardinals and then retired.

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