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Beyond the Athlete

Goldberg Speaks with BSP


When you think of the big names of Pro Wrestling from the 1990’s, the two stars you think of are Stone Cold Steve Austin from the WWE and Bill Goldberg in WCW. Bill Goldberg was a relative unknown going into 1997. After an impressive debut on WCW Monday Nitro in against Hugh Morris, the man who became simply known as Goldberg became one of the hottest names in the game.

Goldberg dominated WCW and became a part of pop culture through the late 90’s into the early 2000’s. When WCW closed its doors in 2001, he took time away from wrestling and joined the WWE in 2003 for a year long run where he became WWE World Champion. His run with WWE ended in 2004 after he competed at Wrestlemania XX. He left wrestling for other projects and interests.

The last time wrestling fans had seen Bill Goldberg in the ring was 10 years ago. The difference between the endings of his football career compared to his wrestling career was that Bill was prepared this time around.

A car show, movie roles and now a new podcast has kept Bill in the spotlight and entertaining millions. He recently gave Randy Zellea of Back Sports Page an exclusive interview where he discusses his life growing up in football, his thoughts on the game today, his time in WCW and WWE, filming the Longest Yard and much more.

Q: You do an excellent job with your podcast. Seems this show is not like other wrestler hosted podcasts. You have seemed to have personalized it more than other shows…

A: I greatly appreciate the compliment. The show truly defines who I am. I think the guests that I have are a representation of my life and career. I go through my list on my cell phone and in a way rekindling my relationships while telling some cool stories from my career and life. I appreciate the opportunity. It’s different and it takes me out of my comfort zone but hopefully I will get better at it.

Q: We all know you were very big football guy. Can you discuss the transition from High School to College ball?

A: You know I don’t want to label the transition as difficult. Where I was growing up I was lucky to have so many great opportunities in my life. I have been more prepared to make the transition from throughout my life when it came to football. I was lucky enough to have my brothers make the same jump and I was lucky enough to see the work they went through. I wanted follow in their footsteps and learn from them.

Q: Can you discuss the transition from College to Pro Football?

A: Yeah, I guess the way I look at football is through my experiences. I happen to see a couple of things when I played pro football that turned me off. Guys were getting injured out there and these guys did not have any real chance to make the team. They are used as blocking dummies so you have enough guys to practice before you have to cut the roster down to 52 players. I wasn’t making millions by any stretch. In fact I was making the league minimum. In my eyes, it was a business deal. I had to scratch and claw for every rep let along making the team. It was a total grind and an uphill battle for me. It was a tough transition from college to the NFL compared to the high school college jump. I think the jump in some ways was parallel. I think the shock and awe of the speed of the game along with the attitude and mentality of the guys in the NFL is a huge jump for any college athlete. Reminding you of the different generations, the transition now is very smooth with all the different types of training facilities that are a like form college to pro.

Q: I understand you own a gym, if you could go back would you try to train for either MMA, or stick with Football and Wrestling?

A: Football for sure!! I’m a football player. I live and breathe the game. I love the smell of the grass during the summer and at the age of 47 I think I could still put a hurting on someone out there. There is nothing better than putting a helmet and pads on bang around out there. I love it. The best part of playing a role in the Longest Yard was being able to take snaps again. It was just plain awesome. They all look at me and my success, and I have had some but the truth is I would trade it all in to play college again.

Q: Do you think it’s tough to recover from injuries?

A: It’s tough. Mentally it’s really tough but technology these days is amazing. Look at Dr James Andrews with different ways to rehab. I remember in 1985, Dr Andrews came in and reconstructed my shoulder. He got me to start moving it right away and that was unheard of that quickly. The advances in medicine and rehab and the aggressive nature of it could be good and bad sometimes. There are guys who are passionate about the game and would play through injuries with the risk of having with permanent damage.

Q: You mentioned the Longest Yard, What was that experience filming the remake like?

A: That was like being in Disney land for grownups. It was awesome. Not only were you in awe of the people you work with, guys like Adam Sandler, Burt Reynolds and Nelly but to also be there with guys like Austin and Nash was pretty damn cool. It was Surreal. I was able to participate in a remake of my all time favorite movie of all time alongside one of my heroes Burt Reynolds. Sandler who has paved the way for Jewish Entertainers, it was a killer experience. I will cherish that experience as it is on the top of my accomplishment list.

Q: You and Michael Irvin had the last scene in the movie…

A: I still think it was payback from Sandler for leaving me out of the Chanukah songs he made over the years.

Q: Seems you like to share your passions…

A: That’s what it is all about, look at my podcast.. It’s a microcosm of me. It’s my interests and trying to open people’s eyes hopefully more than just wrestling fans. You have to have some interests and be diversified, you got to be innovated and have a passion for what you do. I have all of the above.

Q: Was there any resentment about the success you reached in such a short amount of time? You didn’t go through the Indy scene like other guys, was there resentment?

A: I still think there is. No doubt about it. I will never forget driving with Kevin Nash and Raven riding with us and Raven jumped in the front seat and he said “Man you have to pay your dues” I was like dude I paid my dues in the NFL man. I worked my ass off and its’ not about tenure of being on the road. It’s not my fault that you came up the way you did. We all have positions and I felt bad about mine from time to time but it didn’t mean I didn’t work less or any harder then the next guy. I believe my dues were already paid before I got there. The fact that I wasn’t on my high horse or calling my own shots made me a little different from others. From the beginning all the way to the end, 99% of the time I would do anything anybody had asked of me within the wrestling business. The reason for that is they knew more about it then I did. I’m just a guy who was given the opportunity to try and compete to do better then the next guy. I’m not a creative guy. As long as things are logical and I protect my character then I would do it. That’s truly the most important thing. If I could put asses in a seat and help put money in peoples pocket then I don’t think it matters if it was on the road for 15 years. I think it is towards me for that. Look at Brock right now with WWE. He is in and out and the reality of it is he has a great agent that got him a great deal. There is resentment towards him for it because of the deal they cut. I don’t blame the talent because of the deal that they made because at the end of the day it’s a business and there is money to be made. Who are a bigger draw right now then Brock Lesnar? Obviously there is John Cena but he is been there for a long time already. Hulk Hogan taught me that sometimes less is more. You may not be around as much but that would add to your drawing power.

Q: Did you feel that the atmosphere changed behind the curtain when the Monday Night War started getting close?

A: I think it got to the point where the inmates were running the asylum and guys were being a little self serving. I really don’t know. I tried to stay out of those things. I would show up to work find out who I am working with, do my promo, do my match and move on to the next town. Trust me if I knew more I would tell you, but you had Hogan, Bischoff and Russo always worrying about ratings… it was a circus!!

Q: In previous audio shows, Eric Bischoff stated you were not ready to be pulled in many different directions. How do you respond to that?

A: There was no real problem with me getting pulled into multiple directions. I remember one time I was sitting at the Stanley cup finals and they called me to say if I wasn’t in Atlanta the next morning, they weren’t going to renegotiate my deal. Sometimes they didn’t make things very easy for me but to say I wasn’t prepared to be pulled in different directions wasn’t really fair so I disagree with Eric. I truly believe that if anybody was accustomed to be pulled in many different ways after playing college ball it was me. He is right in some ways he is right because in some ways it could be a lot for one person to get pulled so many ways. That could daunt but at times as well as overwhelming.

Q: Besides the match with Hulk in the Georgia Dome, What are some of your other favorite matches?

A: When I first Jack hammered the Giant. The match with Dallas Page at Halloween Havoc and Every match I ever had with Curt Hennig. Working with him was an absolutely blast and so much fun. Hennig was another guy I learned so much from, working with him was awesome.

Q: Did the WCW brass ask your input on the creative side of the Streak?

A: I never recall asking my input about anything. I think they took something organic and took it as it came with no real blue print. I don’t think it they really had any real long term plans for the future with the streak. They pushed it as far as they did and it really kept rising, people didn’t want it to end.

Q: What were the major differences between WCW and WWE behind the scenes?

A: Oh, man, like night and day. You could write a book on the differences between the two companies. The WWE is an entity that is much more professional because of its tenure and experience; they have been through it all. It is an empire. Like I said before WCW was run a little crazy as the inmates ran the asylum but that also made it fun at times. WWE was everything I thought it would be and I don’t mean that in a positive way. There are issues that people are going to have on any given profession and wrestling is filled with backstage drama. I thought there was a bit too much there. There was enough drama for me not to want to be there.

Q: There is talk every year around Wrestlemania about you and one last match. You stated you wanted to have a match in front of your soon. Any thoughts or in talks of having one more match?

A: No. I don’t put much thought into it. I know it would be awesome. I really don’t put much more into that. If stars lined up correctly it would be fun to put together, but I really do not put much more thought into it then that.

Q: A lot of guys who leave the business have that detox period and have a hard time moving past the business. That didn’t seem to be the case with you, why is that?

A: I didn’t have it, I really didn’t have. I learned my lesson for not being prepared for life after football. You have to remember my football career came to an abrupt ending and I didn’t know what the hell to do for the rest of my life what so ever. I liked to think I reinvented myself and made a nice transition.

Q: While you were in WWE, Steve Austin was not able to be in the ring, he was a mouth piece. How was it working with Steve and do you regret not being able to lock up with him?

A: Oh man, Here is a guy that lives, breathes eats the business. Steve is the best at what he does and has such a passion for it. He is an Icon and to be around him for such a short capacity that I was, I learned a lot from the guy and I looked up to him. The fact that we never got to collide in the ring was a travesty if you ask me. With his neck surgery and stuff like that I certainly wouldn’t want the guy to get hurt. It’s a shame we never met in the ring but I learned a lot from him in a short amount of time. He is a good guy in the business and that says a lot.

Q: Can you talk about the situation with Bret Hart? You seem to get a lot of heat for hurting him

A: What happened there was I was a green wrestler and there was a move that was pre determined in the match and I layed it in a little harder then I should have. Everybody who matters knows it was a mistake and I spoke with Bret about it numerous times. As a remarkable human being could be, day to day when I see him I just feel so bad. I am a human being and I never would intentionally hurt anybody in a situation like that ever.. I pay for it every day and it’s a tough deal because he is an Icon and I destroyed his career. It doesn’t matter that if he was at the end of his career, It was an accident and I am Very Sorry for it. I just hope that the others know that and I think so. Bret and I have a good relationship as he is like a big brother to me as he taught me so much in this industry. He is Good People.

Q: You being a football guy, who does you like in the NFL this year?

A: Are you kidding? It’s a crap shoot. That’s like pulling numbers out of a hat. Why don’t you pick for me? First of anytime asks me any NFL questions they always start with who do you root for? I always laugh and say let me see, I have been cut by three NFL teams and I played against all of the others. So really do not have anybody to root for in this case. I really don’t follow the NFL as much as I watch College Football. I’m going to plead the fifth and not pick. For me it’s rare that I watch a lot of NFL football but I just want to see good games and see people compete on a high level and not get hurt. I know that’s a Chicken Sh*t answer but that’s how I feel. I have always been a Raiders fan, always. Except for when I played against them. I just don’t have the passion for NFL football that I do for college not even close.

Q: Any words for Big Ben or other friends?

A: Tell him I am going to hurt if he doesn’t come on my podcast. Yeah, that is something that is different about my podcast, I do not trust anyone to call my friends and ask them to talk on be on my show. I am like a press guy now and it starts developing weird relationships between me and my friends because I wear two or three different hats. I don’t want to intrude on their privacy by giving anyone their phone numbers and at the same time I don’t want to knock on their door like a press a guy and be a pain in the ass.

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