Wally Triplett , one of the inspirations for Penn State’s iconic “We Are” slogan and the first African-American player to be drafted and play in the NFL, died on Thursday.
Triplett, a tailback and linebacker for the Nittany Lions in the 1940s, died at the age of 92, the university said.
“This is a tremendous loss for not only our football program, but the Penn State community as a whole,” head coach James Franklin said.
Triplett was the first African-American to start for Penn State’s football team, on Nov. 17, 1945, the university said.
In 1948, he and teammate Dennie Hoggard became the first African-Americans to play in the Cotton Bowl after the team refused to leave them behind despite pressure to do so because of segregation policies in Dallas.
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…
🔗: https://t.co/mu6PXkpbeS pic.twitter.com/jKS5c6rJVV
“We are Penn State, there will be no meetings,” said team captain Steve Suhey.
Triplett was inducted into the Cotton Bowl Hall of Fame in 2018, the university said.
The Detroit Lions drafted Triplett in the 19th round, and he played four seasons in the NFL in Detroit and Chicago, while taking a two-year break to serve in the Korean War with the U.S. Army.
Triplett is survived by his children, Nancy, Wallace, Alison and David, the university said. He is preceded in death by his wife, Leonore.
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