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Bill Goldberg Family Values Are Still King Of The Ring


Featured here is our 2006 interview with Bill Goldberg, a contestant on the current season of Celebrity Apprentice.


Without meeting former NFL linebacker and World Wrestling Entertainment wrestler Bill Goldberg, you could easily mistake him for just a piece of Herculean, best-cut prime beef. Coat the steak with a dressing of his signature wrestling moves with names like the gorilla press powerslam and the pumphandle drop, and the plate served up resembles no more than a stereotypical wrestling dish.


But to slice off just a tiny piece of this exterior is the equivalent of rubbing a magic genie lamp and – presto – a charismatic, intelligent, articulate, and very caring human being appears. Dressed in a leather jacket and goggle-type sunglasses, 39-year-old Goldberg parks his shiny metallic blue Harley outside The Belly Up in Solana Beach, owned by his older brother, Steve, who is also owner of Pacific Coast Grill. As his six-foot-four power-packed frame slides into a chair, he says, “I’ve reinvented myself numerous times as a way to figure out my life after football slammed shut the door.”


The once Atlantic Falcons defensive lineman became the first player cut by the Carolina Panthers after a torn abdominal muscle ended his dream career in 1995. He later sued the Panthers for misdiagnosing his abdominal injury and for loss of earnings. “It’s amazing – I retired from football to lift 300 pounds in the wrestling ring.” When asked how that is possible considering his injury, he says, “Wrestling is a controlled sport – football is not. In football you never know what is going to happen.”


There are signs that the wound still weeps. “Even though I’ve had an amazingly successful career in wrestling and the movies, I’ve always loved football best,” says Goldberg. “After I got hurt it was a very depressing time because I really didn’t plan on doing anything else and I was one of those guys who thought wrestling appalling, and so did my family.”


Goldberg, the youngest of four, grew up in the Midwest. His father, an accomplished obstetrician/gynecologist, was a graduate of Harvard and Johns Hopkins, and his mother, a concert violinist. “My parents divorced when I was 12, but they gave us everything and molded some pretty good kids. I think growing up in the Midwest had a lot to do with it. We lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is a simple place where family values were seriously enforced – they are not nearly as prevalent these days and that’s very unfortunate.”


Last April, Goldberg, married stunt-double Wanda Feraton, whom he met while filming Santa’s Slay, a comedy/horror film. They expect their first child, a boy, this summer. “I’d like to see children have the same values I had as a kid. I want to see an eight-year-old open the door for a pregnant woman or a six-year-old say please and thank you. In fact, I’d like to write a kids’ book on manners, show the antithesis of the tough guy. Kids are our future and if it takes being the man I am for people to listen, so be it.”


“The man I am” emerged after Goldberg met World Championship Wrestling (WCW) employees Sting and Lex Luger in a gym. Motivated by money and with a body already primed for the ring, he attended a professional WCW wrestling school called the Power Plant. His shaved head, goatee, and utilitarian black trunks became his trademark. “I am proud to have kept my real name and I always tried to remain as real as possible. I never wanted to become a ‘character’ but rather strived to be a role model for kids. I believe I have a responsibility to set a good example.”


Solana Beach boutique owner Sean Safarlou experienced first hand Goldberg’s kid philosophy. “That guy is not a publicity stunt,” says Safarlou, describing his encounter with Goldberg. “He came into my shop with his wife and we started chatting. I told him my son Emmanuel wanted to be a football player but wasn’t doing well at school. Goldberg called my son on the phone and spoke to him directly – he talked to my son and that really meant a lot.”


Goldberg’s number one advice is to make sure kids stay in school and get a solid education, so if something ever happens while they’re chasing their dream they have something to fall back on. “That’s a very important thing,” he confesses. “I’ve been lucky but not everybody gets a second chance.”


Goldberg’s second chance culminated into him winning the United States World Heavyweight Championship in April 1998. Three months later in Atlanta he took the world title from Hulk Hogan. “It was amazing to hear a crowd of 40,000 chanting ‘Goldberg,’ and I’d say half of them were friends of mine. Atlanta is where I went to school and played pro football.”


After the match, Hogan fans forced their way into the ring to attack Goldberg (all scripted) followed by Goldberg’s old football mates from the Atlanta Falcons coming to the rescue (also scripted). “I had so wanted to be like those football guys, so when I saw them in the ring wanting to be like me, there was a kind of poetic justice. In fact, it was the highlight of my wrestling career.”


In 1999, as wrestling world champion, he found himself on the front cover of USA Today. “There was a cartoon taking Michael Jordan’s picture off the wall and putting up mine,” he says. “It was a huge honor.” Male or female, Goldberg is a man who catches your eye, a boon that has served him well. Since 1998, he has appeared in numerous television shows including The Love Boat and Desperate Housewives. Last year, he appeared in three movies, The Longest Yard with Adam Sandler, Burt Reynolds, and Chris Rock; The Kid & I with Tom Arnold; and Santa’s Slay with Fran Drescher.


This past summer, Goldberg hosted a 30-minute program for Spike TV on The History Channel. The show, Automaniac, gave him a platform to talk about his personal passion – the history of automobiles and motorcycles. Goldberg is a private collector with 20 American muscle cars, a 1967 Jaguar, and five motorcycles. His celebrity and interest in cars has made him a popular choice for guest appearances on the U.S. auto show circuit including the Auto Award Show, which took place in Las Vegas last April.


With the birth of his baby imminent, Goldberg wants to apply the work breaks. “I want to spend more time at home and be around for the baby’s birth. Last weekend I was in Portland on Saturday, Detroit Sunday, and home Sunday night and I like that,” he says. The ideal five-day home stay with wife, baby, four dogs, and two cats isn’t going to last, though. This July, in the role originally played by Steven Seagal, Goldberg starts filming Half Past Dead 2.


With 285 pounds of solid muscle to maintain, William Scott (Bill) Goldberg is able to follow a hard workout schedule that also includes being a spokesperson for animal rights and a member of Make-A-Wish Foundation. All this goes to show that a piece of best prime beef is never what it seems.   INGRID HOFFMEISTER


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