Wally Triplett, who played football collegiately at Penn State before a career in the NFL with the Detroit Lions, died Thursday at the age of 92, the teams announced .
Triplett was the first African-American starter for the Nittany Lions and was one of two black players to play in the 1948 Cotton Bowl against SMU.
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.
Forevermore, We Are…
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Triplett was one of three black players selected in the 1949 NFL Draft after Detroit picked him in the 19th round. He’d go on to spend four seasons in the pros: Two with the Lions and two with the Chicago Cardinals. He appeared in 24 games, rushing 70 times for 321 yards and one touchdown. He also caught 17 passes for 175 yards in his career.
#Lions Legend Wally Triplett passes away at age 92: https://t.co/qfXGfRTT69 pic.twitter.com/dzaLrtBvRo
“Wally is one of the true trailblazers in American sports history,” the Lions said in a statement. “He resides among the great men who helped reshape the game as they faced the challenges of segregation and discrimination.”
On Oct. 9, 1950, in a game against the Los Angeles Rams, Triplett set an NFL record with 297 yards on four kick returns, including a 97-yard touchdown. While the record was broken in 1994, his record of 73.5 yards per return during that game sill stands to this day.
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