If you’re looking for the most popular and best-known former Dawg (besides Herschel), you’re probably talking Bill Goldberg, who’ll be seen starting next week on NBC’s latest “Celebrity Apprentice” series.
An all-SEC defensive lineman for the Dogs in the mid- to late 1980s, Goldberg had an injury-plagued NFL career (including a stint with the Falcons) before emerging as a pop culture phenom as a pro wrestler in the late ’90s, becoming the fastest rising superstar in the glory days of Ted Turner’s old World Championshp Wrestling and then moving on to the dominant WWE.
Goldberg’s wrestling heyday coincided with the peak of wrestling success on television and also with my son’s greatest interest in pro wrestling. Young Bill recognized that this particular brand of “sports entertainment” was scripted, but he and his junior high pals were drawn to the outlandish characters, comic book-style story lines and amazing physical feats, scripted or not.
And with Hulk Hogan playing bad guy at the time, their hero was Goldberg, who brought his trademark football spear move, a jackhammer finish and a large dose of charisma to the “squared circle.” There were Goldberg posters, T-shirts and action figures and the former Bulldog was on the covers of national magazines. He was a hit everywhere, but something of a legend in Georgia, where he still lived at the time he was with Atlanta-based WCW. His local public appearances produced hours-long lines of fans seeking autographs.
My son’s favorite memory of those days is the night Goldberg beat Hogan for the WCW heavyweight title on a live national telecast from the Georgia Dome. Even for Georgia Bulldogs fans who weren’t into wrestling, the sight of 42,000 fans at the Dome chanting “Gold-berg, Gold-berg” over and over for the UGA alum was pretty special.
Goldberg didn’t forget his UGA roots, either. He led the Dogs onto the field in Jacksonville, donated a scholarship to UGA, and my son has a framed photo of the wrestler posing with mascot Uga V.
Since his wrestling days, Goldberg has done some acting work in film and television and has hosted several TV series, including the current “Bullrun,” now in its third season at 10 p.m. Thursdays on the Speed Network. And he’s following Herschel Walker by joining Donald Trump’s “Celebrity Apprentice” in its new season premiering at 9 p.m. March 14 on NBC, where he’ll compete for charity against the likes of Darryl Strawberry, Rod Blagojevich, Sharon Osbourne, Sinbad, Cyndi Lauper and Bret Michaels.
Like the Dew has a new interview with Goldberg in which he is asked what really sticks with him from his days of playing football for the Bulldogs and Falcons. “The passion people have in the South,” the Tulsa native says. “The feeling playing at Sanford Stadium is unbelievable. You can find people who really love football anywhere, but the South is just better. Their passion is greater; I mean in Georgia you’re talking about people who literally live, breathe, and die red and black.”
Yes, you can definitely count Bill Goldberg as a Damn Good Dawg.
RICHT ON TURNOVERS
ESPN.com’s Chris Low talked with Mark Richt about Georgia’s disappointing 2009 season and the coach fingered turnovers and penalties as a primary culprit.
“If we get our penalties and turnovers squared away, we win two or three more games,” he said. “We were very poor in both, and that’s my fault as head coach. But if we clean that up, we’re in a whole lot better shape. Some of it is circumstantial. But we just have to do a better job of practicing in such a way that habits we’re creating aren’t going to cause penalties. That’s what we’re fixing to do the rest of this spring and carry it over into the fall.”
How successful they are will have a lot to say with how the Dogs do in 2010.
THROWING 2009 TEAM LEADERS UNDER THE BUS?
Also talking with Chris Low, linebacker Darryl Gamble puts the blame for last season’s defensive woes on a lack of on-field leadership.
“There was too much waiting for somebody else to make a play last year,” Gamble said. “Guys were being too relaxed. It’s time to turn things around and get back to the way things used to be.”
Gamble also notes that the 2010 Dogs don’t have any players left over from Georgia’s last SEC championship team. “We don’t want to be the only class since coach Richt has been here that hasn’t won an SEC championship,” Gamble said. “This is our last shot, but we’ve got to make it happen, got to do extra stuff and make sure everybody’s doing extra stuff.”
SEC TOURNAMENT SEEDING
In his latest Georgiadogs.com blog, voice of the Dogs Scott Howard takes a look at the Dogs’ seeding prospects in the upcoming SEC men’s basketball tournament. Depending on whether South Carolina wins or loses today, Mark Fox’s Dogs will either be the fifth seed or the sixth.
Howard’s analysis: “The fifth seed plays in the top half of the bracket and has the pleasure of opening the tournament in a 1:00 p.m. ET start. If you like to look ahead (and everybody does), the winner of that first game will get Kentucky in the quarterfinals. In the bottom half of the bracket, where the sixth seed will play the final game of the first day at 9:45 p.m. ET, the winner moves on to face Vanderbilt in the quarters. From Georgia’s standpoint, you know which is the better draw.”
GREAT MOMENTS IN DAWG HISTORY
Thanks to the Leather Helmet blog for pointing out that the fan known as the Ghost of Erk Russell has added a 22-part Vince Dooley-hosted “Great Moments in Dawg History” series of videos to his YouTube channel. Check them out for a fun look at Dogs football high points.
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