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Experiences Help George Wilson Lead, Learn

Posted Aug 1, 2013

By Kristen-Leigh Sheft, For Titans Online

George Wilson is calling on his abilities to learn and lead this year with the Tennessee Titans.

As an undrafted free agent out of Arkansas, Wilson’s future in the NFL seemed filled with uncertainties in 2004.

After a brief stint with the Lions, the rookie spent his first year as a member of Buffalo’s practice squad.

While limited to this role, Wilson saw opportunities for growth and began calling upon some of the Bills’ highly-regarded, established leaders for guidance.

“Fortunately, I had a lot of veterans around me—guys like Takeo Spikes, London Fletcher, Troy Vincent, and Lawyer Milloy,” Wilson said. “I used to sit there and pick their brains about having longevity in this game. Those guys really helped teach me what it means to be a pro.”

Enlightened by their newfound wisdom, Wilson worked tirelessly that offseason to prove his staying power in the league. Finally, on Sept. 11, 2005, he played in his first game against the Houston Texans.

While a monumental step, this was merely the beginning of the changes and learning that Wilson needed to do to further his career.

In 2007, he moved from wide receiver to safety to better his chances of earning a full-time roster spot with the Bills.

Up until that point, he hadn’t recorded a reception, so the opportunity to start anew was empowering.

In his first start at strong safety that October, Wilson intercepted Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo and returned it for a touchdown.

The switch undoubtedly paid off. Wilson has started 55 games, including all 16 for the first time in his career last season. A standout leader, he also earned team captain honors with the Bills each of the past five seasons.

Now in his 10th year in the league, he finds himself in a new city with the Titans after spending the previous nine seasons in Buffalo.

This time, however, Wilson is in a new locker room as an established veteran.

When asked if he feels an obligation to impart his collective experiences on the younger players, Wilson responds without hesitation.

“Absolutely; that’s part of this game, the brotherhood, the fraternity. It’s my duty as someone who has been in these rookies’ positions once before to pay forward the information and those experiences and conversations I’ve got. It’s part of preserving the game and making sure it’s moving forward and growing even after my playing days are over.”

It is this very attitude, this unmistakable maturity, that has served Wilson so well throughout his career.

Although far removed from his former days of irresolution, Wilson remains humble.

“I’ve just tried to take the things people taught me through their examples and our conversations and just apply them to my profession and what I do. I just try to show growth and maturity each and every day.”

And though the transition has been challenging given the new coaching staff, schemes, and team nuances, Wilson continues to navigate the role with the same poise that landed him a permanent roster spot with the Bills years ago.

Just ask teammate Ryan Fitzpatrick, another new Titans arrival who has been playing alongside Wilson in Buffalo since 2009.

“It’s hard to switch teams, especially for a guy like George who was in Buffalo so long,” said Fitzpatrick. “But, he’s a guy that’s respected throughout the league and he’s doing great. I think he’s a natural leader, so guys gravitate toward him.”

As the Titans look to end their four-year playoff drought this season, Wilson finds himself in a perfectly-timed opportunity to do just that: lead.

“At the end of the day, football is football,” he said. “You line up, you got to stay productive, you got to stay healthy, and take advantage of things when they come your way.  That’s no different whether it’s in Tennessee or in Buffalo or anywhere throughout the NFL.”

To that end, Wilson plans on seizing every opportunity that presents itself this season, including a look on special teams.

“I just want to come and help the team and do whatever it takes to help us win.” Wilson said. “I want to be a big part of helping turn this thing around. I want to help and lead and do everything I can.”

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