How does a person transition from football super-stardom to everyday life?
“You have to have a goal, a plan,” says Otis Wilson, No. 55 of the Super Bowl XX-winning Chicago Bears and front-row performer in the famed and still-popular "Super Bowl Shuffle." (The video has had more than 21,000 views on YouTube in the past three months alone.)
Wilson has accomplished many goals since the Bears won in 1985, including a film career and the founding the Otis Wilson Charitable Foundation, which focuses on health, education, fitness and after-school programs for children in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Now Wilson can add author to his list of post-football career achievements with the recent release of "If These Walls Could Talk: Chicago Bears: Stories from the Chicago Bears Sideline, Locker Room, and Press Box" (Triumph Books 2017; $16.95).
The book, co-authored with Chet Coppock, an Emmy-Award-winning sportscaster who was inducted into the Chicago Sports Hall of Fame, is both philosophical and humorous in telling stories about Wilson's former teammates, including those they called the Marquee Players, such as Walter Payton and Jim McMahon.
Wilson, an outside linebacker who was known as one of the most feared pass rushers on the gridiron, was approachable off the field.
“My grandmother and mother told me to treat people as you’d want to be treated,” Wilson says. “If you give people respect, they’ll respect you.”
In the book, Wilson talks about the 1980s team, his upbringing and his insight into the changes of professional football since he's played. He also likes to share his interactions with Mike Ditka, Buddy Ryan, Mike Singletary and William “Refrigerator” Perry.
The book, written as a conversation between Coppock and Wilson, has an authentic voice. He credits his mother, who worked and raised six kids, and his grandmother with helping him achieve his success by teaching common sense and an appreciation for hard work and discipline.
Though initially Wilson says he blew a lot of money on expensive cars, big homes and $800 pairs of shoes, he now has learned simplicity (though there’s still that addiction to $3,000 suits). He doesn’t need a $2 million house; he’s happy living on the South Side of Chicago near his foundation, where he spends five days a week or more.
“We’ve reached over 10,000 kids,” he says. “That’s success.”