Nearly 13 years ago on Monday Night Football, George Wilson electrified “The Ralph” when he recorded a pick-six off Tony Romo in his first career start. It has now been six years since Wilson has suited up in an NFL game after playing 7 seasons with the Buffalo Bills and 2 seasons with the Tennessee Titans.
Thinking back to his time in Buffalo, Wilson remembers the people and relationships he made the most. “Bills fans are blue-collar and I always felt a connection to the city and fan base because I was cut from the same cloth…their passion and support was unwavering!!!” said Wilson, who saw his NFL dreams come to life in the city.
There comes a point in every athlete’s career when they have to ask themselves, “What’s next?”. For Wilson, this thought crossed his mind while he was still playing. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do but I had to have a general direction I wanted to go in,” said Wilson. Initially, Wilson had thoughts of doing something related to football. However, it was not until the summer of 2017 when Wilson realized what his next step would be.
“I spent a lot of time at my farm for the first time and I realized how much I missed it as well as how therapeutic it was for me. It was at that point that I decided to invest more time and resources in my land.”
Wilson grew up working on his family farm in Paducah, KY with his grandfather, helping raise tobacco whenever he was not in school or playing sports. It was these experiences that Wilson credits with instilling the strong sense of work ethic, responsibility, accountability, consistency, and sacrifice that helped guide him all the way to the NFL. Wilson has always referred to those experiences as “the gift that keeps on giving”, which ultimately helped him come up with the name for his farm. After researching the origin of that phrase, Wilson learned that it was the slogan for the first phonograph ever brought to market, hence naming the farm “Phonograph Farms”.
A typical day for Wilson at Phonograph Farms all depends on the time of year. “During the late spring and summer I usually wake up early to work out and that’s followed by my daily farm duties like working/picking in the garden, checking the chicken coop for eggs, cutting grass, checking the beehives for pests, etc. During the fall and winter months, I like to do most of my construction when things are much slower at the farm. Sometimes it’s a new pond or a new building, but I like to add a new feature/amenity each year.”
This year, Wilson oversaw the growth of tomatoes, bell peppers, watermelons, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, peas, green beans, okra, and greens at Phonograph Farms. Currently, the only animals on the premises are Chickens, but the farm also has bees for pollination and honey. At some point in the future, Wilson plans on adding horses and dairy cattle to the farm as well.
While Wilson no longer spends his Sundays in front of thousands of screaming fans, he is happy with the peacefulness of his new life at his family farm. “My only involvement with football is as a fan,” said Wilson, who was able to return to Buffalo last fall for the first time since he left after the 2012 season. “It felt good to be back home where my NFL dreams came to life. I’m excited to see what lies ahead for the Bills, they have a bright future ahead of them!!!”
From the gridiron to Phonograph Farms, Wilson’s journey is a testament that a professional athlete’s purpose is not finished after hanging up the cleats. Retirement is not so much an ending, but instead a beginning to another exciting chapter. Much like the Buffalo Bills, George Wilson has a very bright future ahead of him.