SCHERERVILLE | By the multitude of record covers he signed, you could have mistaken Bears Super Bowl champion receiver Willie Gault as more of a pop music star than a football player.
In fact, he was both.
"Now that was something that really caught me by surprise," Gault said of the immediate sensation and the sustained popularity of the "Super Bowl Shuffle" song and video that boldly claimed imminent coronation at Super Bowl XX.
"It was just us having fun," Gault said of the project he helped launch with producer Richard Meyer. "Yeah, there was risk involved. It could have turned out badly for us if we didn't go on and win it. But that was the type of team we were. We weren't afraid of taking risks and entertaining people."
Gault made an appearance Thursday at Menards in Schererville as part of the new two-story store's grand opening. Known for his Olympic-caliber speed, Gault arrived an hour early for his autograph session that lasted more than three hours with a line that snaked around the back part of the store's upper level.
"I don't do these too often, but when I do we usually get a good turnout," Gault said. "If you would have told me nearly 30 years ago that our team would still be this popular, I may not have believed it. But today, looking back at the magnitude of that team, I can see why. I also didn't expect that we would still be the only Bears Super Bowl champion team."
On the subject of magnitude and super, Gault was particularly impressed with the size and scope of the new Menards.
"I've never seen anything like this," he said. "You could lose yourself in this place."
It was a good thing the store had big double doors and a long, low-grade escalator. Otherwise, Tony Lenzie and Mason Skedle would have never gotten their life-size bear inside the building and up to the second floor for Gault to sign.
"Usually, I have to come in and show them the bear (in a photo album) for them to come outside and sign it," said Lenzie of Channahon. "So far, I've gotten 25 (of the Super Bowl champion Bears) including Mike Ditka.
"Who's next? That depends on who's available. We usually check online for appearances."
Gault lives in Los Angeles, where he has pursued an acting career since retirement, periodically appearing in television shows.
The quintessential deep threat, Gault averaged nearly 20 yards per catch during his 11-year NFL career. During the Bears' 46-10 Super Bowl victory over New England, Gault had 129 receiving yards on four catches.
Gault competes in Masters track, and has set numerous sprint world records in his age group.
"I just love to run and to keep myself in shape," he said.
Gault has remained abreast of the Bears situation, which consists of a new coaching staff and the loss of future hall of fame linebacker Brian Urlacher.
"I follow the Bears, but I also follow the Raiders (Gault's final NFL team), the Cowboys and even the Packers," Gault said. "I'm a fan of the NFL. I follow all teams."