George Wilson, a 10-year NFL safety for the Buffalo Bills and Tennessee Titans and Paducah native was announced as a Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee on Thursday, Feb. 24. The announcement was made over a Zoom presentation Thursday morning to members of the media and other who joined in on the meeting. Wilson along with Randall Cobb, Steve Ortmayer, Elbie Nickel, Lee Calland and Reggie Swinton will all officially be inducted on Thursday, June 23 where a weekend full of festivities will take place.
Wearing a black shirt that read in big bold letters “Just a kid from Paducah,” Wilson talked highly about his upbringing in Paducah and thanked all that had helped him get to his NFL career and where he is today.
“I’m no different than anybody else, I was just a kid with a dream who was willing to work diligently day in and day out in pursuit of that dream,” Wilson said.
Wilson still plays a big role in the Paducah community and calls western Kentucky home to this day. He says he wants to be that role model for today’s young generation and someone that they can see and relate to. He played a significant role with relief efforts after the Dec. 10 tornadoes that swept through western Kentucky. His foundation, the GW SAFETY Foundation, based in Paducah, has a mission to “Save Adolescents from the Everyday Trials of Youth by using life skills as a tool to educate youth on how to survive in different environments.”
It is not uncommon to see Wilson on the sidelines of a Paducah Tilghman football game, watching today’s athletes working towards their dreams on the same field he played on as a teenager. He also uses that field to host youth sports camps as part of the summer activities his foundation puts together.
While Wilson is a big name in the community for his athletic accomplishments, he is also known for his advocacy efforts as well. He was recently the master of ceremonies at the NAACP’s 32nd annual luncheon honoring Martin Luther King Jr. and his legacy.
“Nobody gets to anywhere of significance in life alone,” Wilson said. “I’m a reflection of my village, I’m a reflection of my community, I’m a reflection of all those people who poured themselves into me for me to be able to be in a position to live out my dream and be a blessing to my community.”
Although his athletic career in Kentucky only consisted of his time at Paducah Tilghman High School and younger; the career he had at the University of Arkansas and in the NFL made him a prime candidate for the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2022.
Wilson has chosen the life he has now as a philanthropist and roll model so that he can help kids in the same community where he grew up and played throughout his career. He want to help them chase their dreams just like people in his younger life helped him chase his.
“I want to be someone they can see, feel and touch and relate to,” Wilson said. “I’m someone that’s been where they are trying to get to, so I want to be that bridge builder to connect these young men to their dreams whether it’s on the football field or off the football field. So because I’ve had so many people help me along my journey, it’s only right that I pay forward those investments into this next generation of leaders.”
So while George Wilson the person, philanthropist and football player was inducted into the hall of fame, he believes the honor should be celebrated throughout the community that helped him get there.
“This is a celebration for the entire city of Paducah and the entire community, not just my family, but everyone,” Wilson said.
About Paducah Bank:
Paducah Bank is an award-winning, locally owned bank with banking centers in six locations in Paducah and Louisville and employs more than 140 people. Paducah Bank received a 5-star rating from BauerFinancial, the nation’s premier bank rating firm. The bank has earned this 5-star rating for 48 consecutive quarters! The bank also received the distinction of exceptional performance bank, a status reserved for banks that have earned Bauer’s highest rating for 10 consecutive years! Paducah Bank was named as the #1 Best Place to Work in Kentucky among medium-sized companies and was chosen by the Wall Street Journal as one of the nation’s Top 15 Small Workplaces. It was named Best Bank in the Paducah Sun Readers’ Choice Awards from 2012-2021 and has won the Louisville Mayor's Worksite Wellness Award numerous times. In 2019, Paducah Bank won the Governor’s Service Award. In 2020, they won the William. H. Natcher Award by the Kentucky Library Association. They won three Telly Awards in 2021 as well as the Governor’s Business Award for the Arts.