Don Wilson on football, acting and Wayne Gretzky’s wedding

TORONTO — There’s just something about Don Wilson that draws you in.

Perhaps it’s his incredible athletic ability that earned him a Canadian Football Hall of Fame induction or maybe it’s his infectious personality and Hall-of-Fame level storytelling skills.

Whatever it is, Donnovan Bennett was excited to speak with the former CFL great, who went on to become an actor following his football career, on this week’s episode of The Waggle podcast.

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The pair talked about everything from Wilson’s football career to getting into acting when he hung up the cleats to even attending NHL great Wayne Gretzky’s wedding and working with actor Jamie Foxx.

Here are five of the best quotes from their conversation in this week’s episode:

On getting inducted to the CFHOF: “Well, it was a process and it’s still going on because people are still finding out and stuff. It’s a very humbling, but a wonderful process. Wonderful to be recognized as a Hall of Famer. Wonderful to be encourage to continue to do things and try to do things to the best of your ability. A lot of friends and family members have been calling me ever since I was able to tell. So I’m still getting calls. I’m still getting texted. I’m still getting stuff on Facebook and everything. So yeah, it’s been amazing. It’s been amazing every time somebody reaches out to congratulate me.”

On going to Wayne Gretzky’s wedding with Damon Allen: “We were in Edmonton playing, I think, and he (Allen) got the invite from family and he took me. I was his date. Me and Damon went to the wedding. It was a beautiful wedding. But I remember it was so much fanfare. To me. I didn’t understand. You know, I couldn’t believe I was there. It was a lot of beautiful people. It was a lot of, Edmonton was beaming, it was just a great wedding.”

On when he got into acting: “I’ve always been an actor. I just played pro football, so it kind of took me away from the acting. When I was in college, and in high school, I did plays and stuff in the musicals and stuff. And what happened was when I was in Toronto, my 1997 (season), it was during the off-season, because I stayed in Toronto in the off-season. So, in 1997, I met a young lady and she was an actress and I said, ‘so how are you doing with it?’ because she told me she was an actress. And I said, ‘Oh, yeah, I used to do some acting.’ And it was almost the end of my career and I was trying to think about what I wanted to do after football. The fact that I met her and was talking about that and she said, ‘Well, maybe you need to go meet my agent.’ So I went to meet her agent and they took me on as a client and they sent me on three or four auditions, and I booked three out of the four.”

On what make greatness across all genres: “I think the first thing it is, is confidence. I think that’s the first thing. The second thing is the willingness to do what it takes to make it and then become better. The third thing is always execution. You have to execute the things you want to do and the determination is key today. Determination, hard work and as seeing yourself doing these things, too. You also have to envision making these things happen. Making a great play, making an interception, making a save and tackle, you know, you have to envision yourself doing these things. Same with the acting thing. I have to envision a getting a lead role in a movie, getting that lead co-starring role on a sitcom, I have to envision it. So it’s going to take the same thing that I applied to football and this acting thing for me to be able to excel the way I need to and want to.”

On meeting and working with Jamie Foxx: “He reminds me a lot of me. Because he’s funny and he very talented. He could do a lot of different things. He also was real close to his grandmother and I was real close to my mother. So it just the correlation stuff like that. But I met him, played ping pong with him on the set. You know what I’m saying, beat him a couple of times. But I had to stop because, you know, he’s the actor, the lead actor. He was a good dude, good person, good attitude. So like I said, I’ve been I’ve been around a lot of greats.”

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