James Earl Wright
Personal information
Born:(1939-03-27)March 27, 1939
Columbus, Mississippi
Died:February 26, 2009(2009-02-26) (aged 69)
Height:5 ft 11 in (1.80 m)
Weight:190 lb (86 kg)
Career information
High school:Stephen D. Lee
(Columbus, Mississippi)
College:Memphis State
Position:Quarterback/Defensive Back
NFL Draft:1961 / Round: 3 / Pick: 36
AFL Draft:1961 / Round: 14 / Pick: 107
Career history
Career NFL statistics
Games played:10
Career CFL statistics
Passing yards:89
Passer rating:91.3
Player stats at PFR

James Earl Wright (March 27, 1939 — February 26, 2009) was a gridiron football defensive back and quarterback who played in the American Football League and the Canadian Football League. He played college football at Memphis.

Early life and high school

Wright was born and grew up in Columbus, Mississippi. He attended Stephen D. Lee High School, where he lettered in baseball, football and track.[1]

College career

Wright attended Memphis State and was the Tigers' starting quarterback for three seasons. As a senior, Time referred to Wright as "the most dangerous back in the South".[2] Wright was leading the nation in total offense as a senior before suffering torn cartilage in his left knee against Southern Mississippi.[3] He finished the season with 604 yards and 11 passing touchdowns. Wright was inducted into the Memphis Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979.[2]

Professional career

Wright was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the third round of the 1961 NFL Draft and by the Boston Patriots in the 14th round of the 1961 AFL Draft.[4] He did not sign with either team and was later signed by the Edmonton Eskimos.[5] Wright missed the entire 1962 season due to his knee injury. In 1963 he played in three games, completing 5 of 15 passes for 89 yards with one touchdown pass and four interceptions and rushed ten times for 33 yards.[6] Wright's season ended when he tore ligaments in his right knee.[7] Wright was signed by the Denver Broncos in 1964 and was moved to defensive back. He played in ten games in 1964.[8]


  1. ^ "MEMPHIS STATE SIGNS COLUMBUS ACE". Hattiesburg American. May 31, 1957. Retrieved January 27, 2022 – via NewspaperArchive.
  2. ^ a b Russell, Joseph (March 5, 2009). "Former Tiger great James Earl Wright passes away". The Daily Helmsman. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  3. ^ "WRIGHT OUT FOR SEASON: Memphis State Quarterback to Undergo Knee Operation". The New York Times. Associated Press. October 31, 1961. p. 35. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  4. ^ "Funeral Arrangements For Former Tiger QB James Earl Wright". gotigersgo.com. March 2, 2009. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  5. ^ "Eskimos Sign Wright". The New York Times. December 6, 1961. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  6. ^ "James Wright Statistics". JustSportsStats.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  7. ^ Lighty, Dick (August 27, 1963). "A Tough Grind". The Daily Herald. Retrieved January 27, 2022 – via NewspaperArchive.
  8. ^ "Jim Wright Stats". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved May 31, 2020.