This year, in honor of the NFL’s 100th season and Buffalo’s 60th season, the Bills will pay tribute to the individuals and moments that have contributed to franchise history. Recently, buffalobills.com caught up with former safety George Wilson, who played for the Bills from 2005-2012. Find out more about Wilson’s tenure with the Bills, his current work on his farm in Kentucky and more.
1. What is your favorite Bills moment or memory?
For me, I just moved from wide receiver to safety [and] we played the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football here in Orchard Park. I got a pick six off of Tony Romo on the first series. It just kind of electrified the crowd and it was a big moment of that ball game and it essentially kicked off the second phase of my playing career because I switched positions that offseason.
2. Can you describe how you felt and what you thought when you first walked into the Bills locker room?
I came to Buffalo from the Detroit Lions and coming here, I felt there was a family environment. The guys were very warm and welcoming and that proved to be true. I spent more time together with my teammates here in Buffalo than what I had done previously in Detroit and as I got to know them, they became more like brothers and everything. So, we were together at work, but we were also together outside of work and got to know each other’s families on a more intimate level. It was a family environment – that’s what I felt when I came in.
3. Did you have any mentors on the team?
It was still my rookie season [when I came to the Bills]. I mean I had a few guys. I could probably list them forever, but some guys that stick out [are] Troy Vincent, Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher, Lawyer Milloy – I mean, I could go on and on. But, you know, we just had some really good guys, really good pros to help teach us young guys how to have a lasting and sustainable career.
4. You really took to the Buffalo culture and were big in the community here. How did that start?
Oh yes, absolutely. I’ve always had a giving heart. I’ve always worked in the community from the time that I was in college at Arkansas. So, when I came here…it was my work with the Community Relations department that gave me a lot of opportunities to see what areas I personally enjoyed doing, what activities I enjoyed attending and supporting. And so, most of it was driven around kids -- even though I did do some activities that involved adults. Through those experiences, [they] gave me the idea of starting my own foundation and working with kids. I still have that to this day but all that sprouted from my interactions and my experiences with the Community Relations department here with the Bills…
5. Who were your best friends on the team?
During my time, it went from Shaud Williams to Angelo Crowell, Leodis McKelvin, Marcus Buggs, Marcus Stroud, Jason Peters – we played college ball together as well. So, I mean, I was cool with a lot of guys on the team but those are some of the few I got really close to.
6. Do you still keep in contact with any of those guys today?
Yes, Angelo and I talk pretty often. He’s the president of an investment group that I have with some other former Bills players and so we’re in constant contact. Marcus Buggs and I and Marcus Stroud as well, I’m in touch with both of them pretty often...Yeah, I still try and keep track of those guys.
7. What would you say your favorite thing about playing for the Bills was?
Just interacting with the fan base. You know, it’s very passionate, has an emotional connection [to the team]. Playing here, I realized how much we impacted the week ahead. When we win, it’s a great week coming back into work on Monday... [I understood] just how much we impacted the tone, starting the week off. But certainly, the fan base is second to none in the NFL. It’s very passionate, very protective of their players. So, that’s something that I always will remember.
8. What do you miss most about playing in the NFL?
Other than the airplane rides [and] the bus rides, the two things I miss the most are the police escorts during traffic and being able to come into the cafeteria...
9. Did you have any game day rituals or superstitions?
No real rituals or superstitions other than just going through the same warm-up routine on the field. We’re creatures of habit. So, there was no deviating from like the order in which you do things. So, that’s about as much of a ritual as I had other than praying before we take the field and all of that. But, you know, nothing out of the box.
10. You had a nickname when you were here, didn’t you?
Yeah, Murph [John Murphy] gave me that nickname. They called me ‘The Senator.’ I got that just from my interactions with the media and how I was just a straight shooter and I wouldn’t try and avoid the tough questions.
11. Do you have any funny stories from when you were a rookie? Did your teammates have you buy a bunch of food for them?
That was a part of rookie orientation. It cost you a little money, but if you were able to become a veteran, you could do that one day as well. But yeah, getting food for the plane. I mean I know there were times we were cutting it close because somebody wanted something else from a different restaurant. We’d have to go and get it and still try and make the airplane. If you’re late, nobody’s paying your fines for you. You better get some help from some other rookies. But yeah, getting food for the plane was some of the easier things until you went to your rookie night out, which is the real rookie experience, where you get to fit the Bill for your veterans and everything. People all of a sudden get very, very hungry and extremely thirsty. Those are some great memories as well.
12. What is your favorite Bills uniform combination?
My favorite one was when…they first came out with the throwback jerseys with the royal blue with the white pants and then we had the throwback helmets...the white helmets with the red Bill [standing buffalo] on it. I think our facemasks might have been gray. That was such a difference between the navy and the white. That throwback uniform was fresh. It was dope. We really enjoyed that. Unfortunately, we could only where it one game a year. So, we really wished we could get it every week, but that was for sure by far the best uniform.
13. What do you do now?
I own my family’s farm in Kentucky. I grow food. Now I’m actually about to start another venture on my property. I’m about to build an event venue – a rustic type of event venue for weddings and other special events. So, I have about 140 acres and I’m planning to do some other things to help diversify the streams of income to the property. There’s always something to be done on the farm. There’s never a dull moment. It’s therapeutic for me. [On] the farm [there] is always something to do and rarely is it the same thing every day. One day I could be working with the garden, and I’m also into beekeeping too, so another day I could be working with my bees or I could be building a structure or working on the tractor. That’s what I love about the farm and how it’s similar to football. Every day is unpredictable. You’re going to change your strategy or what you’re doing based on what the focus is that week because every day is not routine. I think is what makes it attractive to me.
14. Did you grow up on the farm?
Yeah, I’m [the] fifth generation owner of it. When I was growing up, we raised tobacco and I was out there working when I wasn’t playing sports or in school. So, now I find myself in a similar position that my grandfather was in, using it to teach my younger cousins hard work and sacrifice and responsibility – things of that nature. So, it’s really serving as another platform for me to be able to reach the youth. I have plans for an adventure park and campgrounds to be able to host leadership retreats and team building opportunities for churches, businesses and schools. You know, the farm means so much to me, I just want to try and share as much of it as I can with other families and other people.
15. Do you have a personal motto or anything you used to say when you were a leader on the team?
When I talk to youth, I always try and end with a saying and it’s more or less just [to] live in the moment and make the most of today. It says, ‘the past is gone, and the future may never come but now is a gift, that’s why we call it the present.’ And I just think far too often in life, we as people get consumed with life and don’t really get a chance to live in the moment because we’re so focused and worried about tomorrow or dwelling on the past and it kind of hinders our progress. So, you just want to take the good with the bad but live in the moment. Love on the people who are around you. Appreciate the people who have helped you get to where you are. Then, plant some seeds along the way to help those coming after you…