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Wallace Triplett
NFL.com Video: "Wally Triplett: My Penn State Football Story", October 14, 2008. Cheltenham High School Hall of Fame Wally Triplett Penn State African

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Wallace TriplettTriplett on a 1950 Bowman football cardNo. 18, 40, 47Position:HalfbackPersonal informationBorn: (1926-04-18) April 18, 1926 (age 92)
La Mott, PennsylvaniaHeight:5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)Weight:170 lb (77 kg)Career informationCollege:Penn StateNFL Draft:1949 / Round: 19 / Pick: 182Career history
  • Detroit Lions (1949–1950)
  • Chicago Cardinals (1952–1953)
Career NFL statisticsPlayer stats at NFL.comPlayer stats at PFR

Wallace Triplett (born April 18, 1926, died November 8, 2018) was a former professional American football player, the first African-American to be drafted by and play for a National Football League team.[1] For that reason, his portrait hangs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Penn State
  • 3 NFL
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links
Early life

Triplett, the son of a postal worker, was born and raised in the Philadelphia suburb of La Mott, Pennsylvania, part of Cheltenham Township.[2] His reputation as a talented high school football player, combined with his upscale address, prompted the University of Miami to offer him a scholarship sight unseen, under the assumption Triplett was white. The then-segregated university rescinded the scholarship when they discovered Triplett was black. Triplett instead earned a Senatorial Scholarship for his academics and chose to attend Penn State University in the fall of 1945.[2]

Penn State

Along with Dennis Hoggard, Triplett was one of the first African-Americans to take the field in a varsity football game for Penn State. During the 1946 season, Penn State's Nittany Lions team voted to cancel a regular-season game at the University of Miami, rather than compromise by not bringing their black players. (Miami, like other southern schools at the time, refused to compete against integrated schools unless they left their black players at home.)[2]

In 1948, Triplett became the first African-American to play in the Cotton Bowl Classic, catching the tying touchdown in Penn State's 13-13 tie with Southern Methodist University.[3]

Triplett also co-founded the Gamma Nu chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha while at Penn State.[3] Triplett returned to Penn State on November 11, 2015 to meet with Coach James Franklin and the team after their bye-week scrimmage.[citation needed]


Although Triplett was only the third African-American chosen in the 1949 NFL Draft, he was the first of the draftees to take the field in a league game. Undrafted "free agent" African-Americans had previously played in the league.[4] The 5'-10", 173-pound running back and return specialist played for the Detroit Lions from 1949–50.

On October 29, 1950, in a game against the Los Angeles Rams, Triplett set the Lions' single-game record for kickoff return yardage with 294 yards, the second-highest total (NFL record is 304 yards) in NFL history, including a 97-yard touchdown return.[5][6] His average of 73.5 yards per return in that game is also an NFL record.[6]

Following the 1950 season, Triplett became the first NFL player drafted into military service for the Korean War. When he returned from active duty, the Lions traded him to the Chicago Cardinals. He retired from professional football in 1953. After his playing days, Triplett worked as a teacher, in the insurance business, and in management for the Chrysler Corporation.

  1. ^ "African-Americans in Pro Football: Pioneers, Milestones and Firsts". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2009-02-16..mw-parser-output cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
  2. ^ a b c Weinreb, Michael, "Men Among Lions", The Penn Stater, pp. 45–51 |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  3. ^ a b Boyer, Lauren (2009-02-15). "We Play All Or None: Triplett, PSU helped change history". Centre Daily Times. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
  4. ^ African American Chronicles: Black History at Penn State
  5. ^ Detroit Lions History: All Time Records
  6. ^ a b Record Fact Book at NFL.com
External links
  • Video: "Wally Triplett: My Penn State Football Story", October 14, 2008.
  • Cheltenham High School Hall of Fame
  • Wally Triplett Penn State African American Chronicles profile and interview
  • v
  • t
  • e
Township of Cheltenham, Montgomery County, PennsylvaniaFounded 1682Communities
  • Arcadia University
  • Ashmead Village
  • Cedarbrook
  • Cheltenham
  • Edge Hill
  • Elkins Park
  • Glenside
  • La Mott
  • Laverock
  • Melrose Park
  • Wyncote

  • Ancillae Assumpta Academy
  • Arcadia University
  • Bishop McDevitt High School
  • Cedarbrook Middle School
  • Cheltenham High School
  • Cheltenham Township School District
  • Delaware Valley Minority Student Achievement Consortium
  • Gratz College
  • Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
  • Salus University
  • Tyler School of Art
  • Westminster Theological Seminary
Historic Sites
  • Beth Sholom Synagogue
  • Camp William Penn
  • Camptown Historic District
  • Curtis Hall Arboretum
  • Elkins Park station
  • George K. Heller School
  • Glenside Memorial Hall
  • Grey Towers Castle
  • Henry West Breyer Sr. House
  • Milmoral
  • Rowland House
  • St. Paul's Episcopal Church
  • Richard Wall house
  • Wyncote Historic District
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Lucretia Mott
  • Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Yonatan Netanyahu
  • Ezra Pound
  • Wallace Triplett
See also
  • Pennsylvania's 13th congressional district
  • Elkins Estate
  • Lynnewood Hall
  • Cheltenham Square Mall
  • Newgrounds
  • Tookany Creek
  • Holy Sepulchre Cemetery
  • Cheltenham
  • Curtis Publishing Company
  • Einstein Medical Center
  • Oak Lane Day School
  • SEPTA Route 6
  • North Pennsylvania Railroad
  • Reading Railroad
  • Pennsylvania Railroad
rail lines
  • Main Line
  • Airport Line
  • Fox Chase
  • Lansdale/Doylestown
  • Warminster
  • West Trenton
rail stations
  • Jenkintown–Wyncote
  • Glenside
  • Elkins Park
  • Melrose Park
  • Cheltenham
bus routes
  • 6
  • 16
  • 18
  • 22
  • 24
  • 28
  • 55
  • 57
  • 70
  • 77
  • 80
  • H
  • XH
  • Former: C
  • Cheltenham Township Police Department
  • Philadelphia
  • Delaware Valley
  • Pennsylvania



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