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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Life After Football: Richard Wood

Profiling the former linebacker, who was a part of Tampa Bay's inaugural team in 1976.

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When John McKay took over as the Buccaneers' first head coach in 1976, one of his first orders of business was acquiring linebacker Richard Wood.

Before taking the Bucs job, McKay was the head coach at USC. His star pupil, Wood, was a three-time All-American and helped lead the Trojans to two national championships.

Wood had been drafted by the Jets and spent his first year in New York but was promptly traded when McKay took the reigns in Tampa.

"That first year, when I knew Coach McKay was coming to Tampa, I had an idea," Wood said. "I said, 'Well, he'll probably trade for me because, I guess, a first-year franchise, he would want some players that he already knows.'"

For the next six seasons, Wood was a staple at inside linebacker. He started all but nine games from 1976 to 1981, according to Pro Football Reference, including 64 straight from 1978 to 1981.

Photos of former Buccaneers linebacker Richard Wood.

Wood was a part of Tampa's first season, which the team did not win a game, but was also part of the franchise's first two division titles on 1979 and 1981.

"I can always say I know the part about winning and the part about losing," Wood said, "when I speak to my kids about the ups and downs of football, the ups and downs of competitive sports."

He played 132 games as a Buccaneer and is No. 6 on the team's all-time tackling list. 

After retiring from professional football, Wood got into coaching. He returned to the Buccaneers as a defensive assistant from 1991 to 1993 before stints as the head coach of NFL Europe's Amsterdam Crusaders and Munich Cowboys. These days, he works with Tampa Catholic High School.

"What I'm helping (do) is develop young men," Wood said. "I believe that's a serious issue today in our society. We must, the older guys, perpetuate positive attitudes and raise good citizens. I try to do the best I can. I'm tough on them but I love them."

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