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Raiders' Steve Wright Disappears Into the Mist : Pro football: No retirement party for offensive tackle who played 13 years.

June 08, 1994|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Retirement usually means gifts and parties at work for the faithful employee.

That was not the case, however, at the Raiders' El Segundo practice facility last week when offensive tackle Steve Wright decided to hang up his cleats after 13 years.

Wright, who spent the entire 1993 season on the injured-reserve list, told the Raiders of his decision in late May, but when the team gathered for its annual three-day mini-camp on June 1, nary a cake, gift or balloon was in sight.

The only reference to Wright's retirement was a seven-paragraph Raider news release found in the team's media room.

Which was no surprise to Wright, who played most of his career in the NFL shadows as an offensive lineman.

He realized that his announcement would not be front-page news, as was former teammate Howie Long's when he quit last February. After all, it had been more than a year since Wright's last regular-season game and he had no All-Pro selections to his credit. "I have no complaints because I've enjoyed my years playing in the NFL and I know its time to move on," said Wright, 35, who joined the Raiders in 1987. "Deciding to retire was not tough, but saying it was."

After "kicking around" the idea of retiring for the last couple of months, Wright said he decided to do just that after noticing the effect of the NFL's new salary cap. Veterans, especially those making high salaries, were being cut all over the league.

Wright, who earned $600,000 last season, will concentrate on his water-misting company, which specializes in equipment providing light water spray over small areas.

Wright left his mark on the game.

After four years at Northern Iowa, Wright signed with Dallas in 1981 and played two years with the Cowboys, blocking on Tony Dorsett's record-tying 99-yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Vikings.

Wright was traded to the Colts before the start of the 1983 regular season and spent two seasons in Baltimore and Indianapolis before jumping to the Oakland Invaders of the United States Football League in 1985.

After signing with the Raiders, Wright became a starter at right tackle for 48 of the 79 games he played, before injuring his right shoulder four games into the 1992 season.

"Steve Wright was a true professional," said Art Shell, who coached Wright for seven seasons. "He worked very hard and gave every ounce of energy while preparing for and playing the game. He is really a true Raider, on and off the field. "His work ethic and enthusiasm can only make him as successful in his new business ventures as he was in football."

Wright, who has dropped 25 pounds from his playing weight of 305, said: "I feel good about my decision because I played 13 years longer than I ever expected to. I'll miss those fights in the trenches, playing alongside (Steve) Wisniewski and (Don) Mosebar, but I'll leave it up ato the younger guys now."

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