Many Bills fans have grown accustomed to safety George Wilson patrolling the Buffalo secondary during the regular season. Before the OTAs and training camp start moving full tilt, however, they'll have the opportunity to see the University of Arkansas product in a different, albeit unexpected, new role.
Following the Super Bowl, he did a photo shoot for his personal website and Essence Magazine. Not long after he was contacted by a talent agency and quickly found himself, if only for a short while, turning his attentions from offseason conditioning to performing in a music video alongside R&B superstar Mary J. Blige.
The video, titled "Hood Love," features Wilson playing Blige's love interest, who found himself having to explain a late arrival home after a night out with the "boys."
"I was playing Mary J. Blige's boyfriend," Wilson said. "(In the video), I came home late and I was in trouble, and I'm trying to explain myself and apologize for coming in too late. She's not trying to hear me. I told her I was out with friends, and I was trying to make sure they were OK."
A brief foray out of the athletic spotlight and into the recording studio, silver screen or any similar genre is not one which leaves NFL fans scratching their heads anymore. But Wilson recognizes what a special and different opportunity he was afforded.
"It was definitely a new arena for me," he said. "I'm used to being in the football stadium with my helmet and jersey, and now I'm standing in front of an icon, a diva, in Mary J. Blige."
Ironically, before shooting the video in Miami just a few weeks ago, Wilson had received no previous acting training. The safety admits there were "butterflies," but that quickly changed under the watchful eye of Chris Robinson, a well-known director in the industry for his work with Alicia Keys, Ciara, P. Diddy, Nelly, as well as a host of other respected names in the R&B and Hip-Hop scene.
"I was acting for the first time without any type of practice, or training, or anything like that. So, I was learning as I go," Wilson said. "(Robinson) came into my dressing room and gave me the concept of each scene before we filmed it, so I had an idea of what he was looking for.
"He took the edge off and took most of the butterflies away, giving me an idea of what was going on and then directing me during the scene. He gave me direction as to what emotion he wanted me to show."
For Wilson, a man used to two-a-day practices and a highly regimented routine during the football season, the hard work associated with the filming process was nothing he hadn't experienced before. He just needed to take the energy he's used time and again and channel it into an eight-hour shooting session.
"It's definitely an all-day thing," said Wilson. "When I got to Miami, the stylist came through to check out my wardrobe and make sure they had a variety of clothing to select from. I had to go in really early to meet all the staff.
"Then I had to dress up and see how all the clothes work out. They put a little makeup on me. I took care of my beard and my bald head, and then we started filming."
Wilson arrived at the set around 4 p.m. and didn't leave until 12:30 a.m., and that's given the fact that not one scene took more than three takes to perfect.
"It's a full-day's work," he said. "It's definitely time-consuming, but when you have a great staff that was assembled like we did last week in Miami, it's easy to get through it. It's very productive, very professional and fun all at the same time."
The NFL's younger fans might inquire about Blige's in-person persona. The safety gave rave reviews of the R&B diva.
"Oh, Mary is great," said Wilson. "To be a fan of hers before and to actually have the chance to meet her and work with her and see her, up close and personal, was great. She's down to earth and she's a classy lady. She's really fun to work with, and being able to be a fan of hers before being able to work with her makes me an even bigger fan.
"It was just a great opportunity not only for me to be able to do my first music video, but for it to be with an artist with her status. I think every man has sat on his couch, at some point in time, and wished they could stand across from that person. Here I am, I'm able to live out that dream. It's just a great honor."
The video is slated to debut within the next couple weeks on all the major TV music stations. Wilson loves the song and was happy to be a part of the video's production.
"It's already known because we put it out on Twitter," Wilson said. "Hopefully we can get some feedback from the video and see where it takes us."