James Curtis Wilder, Sr. (born May 12, 1958) is a former professional American football running back in the National Football League for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Redskins, and the Detroit Lions.
High school career
Wilder played high school football at Sikeston High School where he set school records in career rushing yards and single season rushing yards. He led the Bulldogs to an undefeated season in 1976, his senior year with the team.
Wilder played at NEO A&M College Miami, Oklahoma, Then Wilder went on to attend and play college football at the University of Missouri where he led the Tigers to three bowl games and became known as the "Sikeston Train" and one of the most popular players for the program.
Wilder was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft. After he shared the backfield as a rookie with Jerry Eckwood in 1981, the Buccaneers released Eckwood in favor of Wilder prior to the 1982 season. He played for most of his career with Tampa Bay, and was a Pro Bowl selection in 1984. Wilder almost set an NFL record that season for combined rushing and receiving yards in a season finishing 16 yards short with 2,229. In an attempt to give Wilder one more chance to break the record in the final minute of the final game of the 1984 season against the New York Jets, head coach John McKay ordered his defense to let the Jets score, so that the Bucs could go back on offense. This resulted in one of the strangest plays in NFL history where the Tampa Bay defense simply stood still as the Jets ran the ball into the end zone.
He ranks first in Buccaneer history in rushing yards and receptions and even set an NFL record with 43 carries in a single game in 1984. Also in 1984 he set NFL records for carries (407) and touches (492) in a single season. Pro football Hall of Famer, Linebacker, Lawrence Taylor has stated that James Wilder was one of the toughest running backs that he played against during his career.
Wilder's son, James Wilder, Jr., is a professional football player for the Cincinnati Bengals. He played football for Florida State and was a part of their 2013 National Championship winning team. Wilder's daughter, Courtney Wilder, played running back on the Tampa Breeze during the 2011-12 LFL season.