Share on facebook
Share on google
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

Rayfield Wright’s first start at tackle for the Cowboys was in a 1969 game against the Rams. His first NFL starting assignment was to block Deacon Jones.

Earlier in the week, a reporter asked Wright how he was going to do this. “After all, Deacon Jones is big and fast and..,” the reporter babbled.

Rayfield just quietly said, “I’m big and I’m fast, too.”

Yes. Big. And fast. And strong. And smart. And wonderful. And reliable. And the best teammate anybody or any team ever had.

And the epitome of pretty much everything I love about athletics, and football, and being part of a team.

And my hero.

Oh, let me finish the above vignette. Yes, the 9-0 Rams beat the 8-1 Cowboys 24-23. But Rayfield handled Deacon Jones. Years later, that was later confirmed to me by…Deacon Jones.

Wright handled everything with an uncommon grace and dignity.

He wasn’t just The Big Cat. He was Top Cat.

How a man’s teammates feel about him is often all I need to know. Wright was revered.

Thirteen seasons. Six Pro Bowls. Three first-team All-Pro selections. Eight NFC Championship games. Five Super Bowls. Two rings.

Rayfield Wright never played on a losing team with the Cowboys. Ever.

Wright’s career spanned my growth from a naïve, gung-ho teenager to a naïve, gung-ho adult. My feelings about him changed over that span only in the sense that they got deeper.

Rayfield was such a source of comfort for Cowboy fans. However worried you were about an upcoming game, the one thing you were never worried about was Rayfield. Rayfield was going to do his job and win his battle. That was a constant.

Wright was a beautiful athlete, blessed with quickness and balance, developed earlier in his days as a basketball player who could have played in the NBA and had planned to.

Once he chose football, he was a tight end before he was a tackle. Before he became THE tackle.

I keep going back to the word “balanced.” Rayfield was balanced in everything he did, and with everyone he dealt with.

Yes, I cried last night. Hell, yes, I did.

He wasn’t just The Big Cat. He was Top Cat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.