The first thing Willie Gault told me was that his life is an open book. He said this as he's currently embroiled in controversy while continuing to live a Hollywood lifestyle.
"I had a wonderful time," he said. "A lot of people (on the show) were huge football fans. I'm pretty friendly with Rob Lowe and one of the producers from the show still works out at the gym I work out at, and we still talk about it."
If you want to find Gault now, you won't have to go far. Maybe the "Super Bowl Shuffle" sparked the eventual transition to show business. But after his playing days came to an end, Gault pursued an acting career -- and in addition to appearing on "The West Wing," he's appeared on "The Pretender," "Still Standing," and currently has some feature films that he's trying to get produced. He travels around the country with his charity that tries to obtain free heart testing for athletes.
Known for his great speed -- he's still a workout fanatic -- Gault currently holds track and field masters records in the 100- and 200-meter events. Last year, at the age of 50, Gault ran a 10.96 100-meter dash at the world masters meet.
In fact, Gault seems to be more active now than he was in his playing days when averaged a whopping 19.9 yards a reception for his NFL career. He still probably could push a bobsled, like he did in the 1988 Winter Olympics.
Gault could also easily have been the MVP of the Bears' 46-10 Super Bowl XX win over New England with his 129 yards receiving and another 49 on kick returns. It was one of the all-time performances in Super Bowl history. If you thought Gault saw that coming, however, you'd be mistaken.
"I had an OK season but not a lot of touchdowns," Gault said. "We just didn't throw the ball that much, we ran it with Walter [Payton]. I wasn't thinking I was going to have a huge game. But coach said 'We need you' and I said I'd be ready. The only thing I wish was Jim [McMahon] had thrown the ball four yards further (on one play) then I would have had a 96-yard touchdown, which would have been the record at the time."
Gault chuckled as he reflected on that near miss. With all the Bears did, they still think they could have done more.
Yes, the '85 Bears were brash. Any team recording a song like the "Super Bowl Shuffle" before the game didn't lack in confidence.
"It's a catchy tune, and it showed the personality of our team," Gault said. "It set the tone for everyone to try and mimic us in the future which no one has been able to do. It gave us a rock star appeal. Everyone knew who we were. A lot of things can get taken from you. You can get your Super Bowl ring stolen, but when you do something as a team like that, you cherish it forever."
Gault isn't being metaphorical here. He actually had his Super Bowl ring stolen in November, but then got it back in December in a bizarre turn of events. Gault and his wife were preparing to travel on business to Abu Dhabi and had some of their valuables out of their safes. While they were out one day, there was a break-in, and his ring, along with other jewelry, was stolen.
"The break-in was something that a lot of people knew about," Gault explained. "Someone tried to sell it to a pawn broker in Minnesota who knew it was stolen. He called the Minnesota Police, who called the LAPD and set up a sting. " ... The guy in charge of the sting operation was a former NFL player, so he was determined to get the ring back. And they pulled the sting. So without the ring being taken we wouldn't have gotten anything back, really."
A Beverly Hills, Calif., store owner was arrested and charged with receiving stolen goods.
But getting back to the "open book" portion of things, Gault's also had some unsavory headlines recently. He's been accused by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission of taking part in a stock-inflation scam involving a medical company he helps manage, Heart Tronics, which manufactures heart monitoring devices. True to form, Gault didn't shy away from the story.
"I was accused of something that isn't right and not accurate," Gault said. "I have all the receipts to prove it. I just think my name was the big name so it made the headlines. I feel confident we'll prevail. If I can bring attention to heart disease with this, then it's okay.
"I did everything right, and I'll be okay," Gault added.
The life of Willie Gault keeps on rolling.