Former Xavier football player George Wilson Jr., who went on to become a rookie phenom of the 1966 Miami Dolphins, died on Aug. 6 at the age of 68 of throat cancer. A native of Detroit, Wilson initially attended the University of Notre Dame on a football scholarship but transferred to Xavier after beer was found in his room.
A graduate of the Class of 1966, Wilson earned his Bachelor of Science in physical education. He was a second-string player on the football team from 1964-1966, was a member of the Detroit Club and the Economics Club, and participated in intramural sports.
Wilson began his professional career in the American Football League as a back-up quarterback, playing under his father, George Wilson Sr. The Dolphins were 0-5 when Wilson started, and he helped the team to two of their three victories, defeating Denver 24-7 in Miami and Houston 20-13, the team’s first road win. These two spectacular wins showed off his impressive passing game, including 67-yard and 80-yard touchdowns, which added to Wilson’s pass-completion percentage of 58 and earned him recognition as the sixth overall best passer in the league. He was also the league’s third-ranking punter, with an average of 44 yds. per kick.
However, the surprise success was short-lived. A shoulder injury in his second game caused Wilson’s stats to plummet. At the end of the season, his father traded him to Denver where he was cut three days later. Wilson then played in the Canadian Football League before signing with the Pottstown Firebirds, a minor league team in Pennsylvania. He ended his professional career in 1969.
Wilson lived across the country and worked various jobs, including as an investment broker in south Florida and selling real estate in Michigan, before retiring to Weeki Wachi, Fla., in 2004.