I met a personal hero today, Willie Davis. Yes, that Willie Davis of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that Willie Davis of the Green Bay Packers of my youth.
It’s a little weird when you’re confronted with greatness, right in front of you, within reach, not on TV, or somewhere in the distance.
I was a total Packer fan when I was a kid. I memorized every player, their number, size, weight, position, number, everything. I’m a little embarrassed to say I can still recite Willie Davis’ bio, from where he went to college (Grambling), the year he was drafted (1958), the team who took him (Cleveland), when he was traded to the Packers (1959), his position (defensive end), his number (87).
Willie Davis is a big man physically, 75 years old. He looks 15 years younger. He has meat hooks for hands, and carries an extra 100 pounds. He struggles to get up from a seat and moves deliberately, exposing the pounding his body took in his 12 years in professional football.
He always credited Vince Lombardi for his success. But, his success on the football field was only part of his life story. He ran a successful beer distributorship in Los Angeles in the second phase of his professional life, and now owns five radio stations.
I had a chance to chat for a while. He was very nice and amiable, asked about what I did and where I was going.
I’m 10 years old again.