Sports Legends: From The Gridiron To The Ring
UGA’s Bill Goldberg had a wrestling career after he played football
The word “versatility,” according to Merriam-Web-ster’s Collegiate Dictionary, refers to the art of turning from one thing to another. That being the case, what better example of versatility than the life of William “Bill” Scott Goldberg.
A second team All-American and two-time All-Southeastern Conference defensive guard for the University of Georgia (1986-1989), Goldberg turned from college football to pro football, to world champion professional wrestling, to television and to movie acting.
In his spare time, Goldberg, who lives now in San Diego, has raced sailboats, flown the Goodyear Blimp and been a bouncer in a bar.
He has made millions and given most of them away. A lot of the money has gone for a camp for boys who have lost their fathers in the war in Afghanistan and for funding athletic scholarships to the University of Georgia.
In 1989, Goldberg was defensive captain of the Georgia Bulldogs. During his career in Athens, he made 170 individual tackles and assisted on 178 others. His total was a school record.
At 6 feet 3 inches and 280 pounds, he was a menace to the opposition, on his side of the line or the other.
Said his coach, Vince Dooley, “In 25 years, he was one of the greatest football players I ever coached. On the field he was totally relentless, a terror.
“Off the field, he was one of the nicest persons I have ever known. He was thoughtful, considerate of others. He was a warm human being, outgoing not only to his teammates but to students, faculty members and alumni as well. He was one of my all-time favorites.”
Goldberg was selected to the Nat-ional Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. (One of life’s great mysteries is why he has not been chosen for the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.)
Of his selection to the Jewish Sports Hall, he says, “That is the biggest honor I have ever received. My religion is important to me. I enjoy all the Jewish holidays, especially Passover, Hanukkah and Rosh Hashanah, the start of the Jewish New Year.”
Goldberg is now 43 years old. He was born and grew up in Tulsa and like so many Georgia football players was steered to Athens by Lou Wolfson.
An outstanding lineman for Tulsa’s Edison High School, he attracted the attention of college football scouts from Maine to California, but once he saw Athens he looked at no other campus.
His football career ended when an injury forced him into retirement after three seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.
So, what was a nice Jewish boy like Goldberg doing in a wrestling ring? Especially a guy whose father is a concert violinist and medical doctor?
“I think it was my size, bald head and last name,” he says. Whatever it was, it was a good choice. Gold-berg won 173 matches and had a nationwide wresting fan club. Kids all over the country bought Goldberg masks with the eyes cut out and his name emblazoned on each side.
He liked to go by Goldberg so that fans would know he was of the Jewish faith. He got the idea from the late Max Baer, the former world heavyweight boxing champion who wore a Jewish star on his boxing trunks.
A frequent volunteer with youth charities, Goldberg retired from his wrestling career because he did not think a wrest-ler was a good role model for children.
His acting career began when he tried out and won a part in a remake of the old Burt Reynolds movie, “The Longest Yard.” The highlight of his Hollywood period, he says, was meeting a stunt woman named Wanda Ferraton, who became his wife.
He is now hosting three TV shows out of San Diego.
So what is the next career for the versatile Bill Goldberg?
“There isn’t going to be a next one,” he says. “All I want to do now is be a good father to my four-year-old son and dream of the day he will play football for the Red and Black.”