Wood, Gary : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Wood, Gary

Gary Fay Wood

Wood was a three-time All-Ivy League before playing in the NFL. An outstanding athlete who also played baseball at Cornell, Gary led the nation in all-purpose yardage in 1962 and 1963.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. February 5, 1942 - d. March 2, 1994

Career Highlights:
A graduate of Cortland High School in New York, Wood had an outstanding career at Cornell as a three-year starting quarterback. In 1961, as a sophomore, he was the Big Red's leading rusher (449 yards on 94 carries with three touchdowns) and leading passer (28-75 for 456 yards and six touchdowns). Gary was named All-Ivy League honorable mention, although the Big Red only had a record of 3-6 (2-5 in the Ivy League).

In 1962, Cornell struggled again with a 4-5-0 record (4-3-0 in conference), but Wood enjoyed another terrific season. For the second year in a row, he led the team in rushing (889 yards on 173 carries for a 5.1 average and nine touchdowns) and passing (60-117 for 890 yards and eight touchdowns). The conference's leading rusher in Ivy League play with 813 yards, Wood also led the nation in all-purpose yards with 1,395 (155.0 yards per game).

Wood was outstanding week after week for the Big Red. Against Princeton, he passed for 212 yards in a 35-34 victory. In Cornell's 29-22 win over Penn in the final game of the season, Gary ran for 207 yards and threw for 160 more for an incredible 387 yards of total offense (an Ivy League record). He was named first team All-Ivy League, All-America honorable mention, and the Associated Press named him one of the four most spectacular players in the nation.

In 1963, Gary was elected team captain and continued to shine for his team. Cornell had its best season during his career with a record of 5-4-0 (4-3-0 in conference). Wood was once again Cornell's leading rusher (818 yards on 166 carries and seven touchdowns) and leading passer (48-119 for 545 yards and four touchdowns. He repeated as the Ivy League's leading rusher in conference play with 706 yards AND as the nation's leader in all-purpose yards with 1,508 (167.6 per game).

In Cornell's 13-10 win over Yale, Wood had an 80-yard run from scrimmage. Against Penn, Gary ran for 149 yards in a 17-8 victory. He was named first team All-Ivy League for the second consecutive season and repeated as All-America honorable mention.

The team's MVP in both 1962 and 1963, Wood was also named the Ithaca Journal's Male Athlete of the Year both years. He finished his career at Cornell first all-time in rushing yards (2,156 -- currently fifth all-time) and all-purpose yards (4,047 -- currently fourth all-time).

In the 1964 NFL Draft, Wood was selected in the eighth round (109th overall) by the New York Giants. After giving him a quick trial at defensive back, they returned him to his natural position at quarterback. Unfortunately, Wood joined the Giants during the team's slide towards mediocrity that would last until the 1980s. Wood spent his first season backing up the great Y.A. Tittle (in Tittle's last season). Gary had a decent rookie season, completing 66 of 143 passes for 952 yards and six touchdowns as the Giants finished the year a pathetic 2-12-0.

Tittle told a joke about Wood and Tittle's daughter, "Dianne was in junior high school and tall, and Gary asked me if it was OK to ask her out. That's when I knew it was time to quit - when the guy who wants to take your job is trying to date your daughter." Despite being only two years removed from a league MVP, Tittle retired the next year and made way for Wood.

In 1966, Wood had his best statistical season in the NFL, sharing the quarterbacking duties with Earl Morrell. Wood completed 81-170 passes for 1,142 yards and six touchdowns. He also rushed 28 times for 196 yards (7.0) and three touchdowns. That year, Gary appeared in all fourteen games for the 1-12-1 Giants under head coach Allie Sherman. Gary remained with the Giants until 1967, when he was picked up in the expansion draft for the New Orleans Saints.

Wood played one season (and in only two games) for the Saints (3-11-0) before being traded back to the Giants for a draft pick in 1968. He spent two more seasons with the Giants, backing up Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton. Gary appeared in 26 games and completed 19-40 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown in that span. He retired following the 1969 season, having appeared in 63 career NFL games.

In 1970-1971, Wood played in the CFL (Canadian Football League) with the Ottawa Rough Riders. When his playing days ended, Wood opened an insurance firm in New York City. He helped build Temple Beth Torah in Melville, New York and became a benefactor to countless programs and organizations. In 1979, he was inducted into the Cornell Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1999, he received special mention from Delta Upsilon, his Cornell fraternity, as a member of their All-Century Pro Football team. Wood is a member of the Cornell University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (located in Commack, New York).

Origin:
Taylor, New York

Career Dates:
Wood played at Cornell University from 1961-1963. He then played quarterback in the NFL for the New York Giants from 1964-1966, and again from 1968-1969. He played with the New Orleans Saints in 1967. Gary also played in the CFL with the Ottawa Rough Riders from 1970-1971.

Physical description:
5'11", 192 pounds

Career Statistics:
In the NFL:
Games: 63

Passes completed: 186
Passes attempted: 400
Passing percentage: 46.5
Passing yards: 2,575 yards
Passing touchdowns: 14
Interceptions thrown: 23

Rushes: 75
Rushing yards: 425
Rushing average: 5.7
Rushing touchdowns: 6
Fumbles: 10

Extra points: 1



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References:
The Encyclopedia of Football, by Roger Treat (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1976 -- 14th Edition)
Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the National Football League, edited by Bob Carroll, Michael Gershman, David Neft, and John Thorn (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999)


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