The Post-Journal

Returning To Hometown Big Thrill For Bergey

"I don't want to have a big yacht down in the ocean and all that stuff," Bill Bergey admitted in an interview in the South Dayton Fire Hall during "Bill Bergey Weekend."

"It's not me and I'm not a phony-baloney about it."

That's the way the all-pro middle linebacker of the Philadelphia Eagles is.

Old school friends and those he was meeting for the first time concurred. There is nothing phony about this 12-year National Football League veteran, who has achieved everything he could hope for individually.

He spoke to the people, he signed autographs, and he kissed little girls. For Bill Bergey, it was a true homecoming.

"I would say, for this entire off-season, my biggest thrill has been to come back to this hometown of mine," said Bergey. "Just to visit with friends these last couple of days, I've really been relaxing. This is fun stuff for me."

His brother, Bruce, who once played for Kansas City and Houston in the National Football League, was home for the weekend and it was like old times. Almost lost was how far Bill had come since his days at Pine Valley, 17 years ago.

"I have achieved every personal goal, every personal honor that can be achieved in the National Football League," Bergey admits. "To be able to bring home a championship would really be the ultimate."

That's where it's at for Bill now, a championship. The man labeled the heart of the Eagles' defense wants more than anything to win the Super Bowl.

"That's the number one thing, really. I had a talk with (Eagle coach) Dick Vermeil and I believe everything he is doing he's doing the right way and I think we're really close."

"It might be harder to go back to the Super Bowl again," Bergey admits, "but we know how to get there and perhaps we can go back and win the thing this time around. That is what it's really all about, though. Winning that championship."

Bergey's talk with Vermeil came over his own future. At 36, he's playing linebacker in a young man's game. But that doesn't bother Bill.

"I had a talk with Dick Vermeil right after the Super Bowl and I was wondering what his thoughts and plans were."

"I wish we would have won the Super Bowl so I could have had my own decision to make, which probably would have been an easy decision. But I have committed myself to Vermeil for the next two years and that will give me 14 years in the NFL."

"I feel like we'll be winning the championship within a couple of years," Bergey predicted.

What will it take?

"You've got to be lucky," Bill admits. "You really have to be lucky. We cannot creep up on anybody anymore. Everybody knows we're for real. Ron Jaworski's going to get better, there's no question about that. To get back there, we have to work harder than we did last year and to win it we're going to have to mature as a team."

"Every year under Dick Vermeil's program we have taken a step up. We have had a better record, we've gotten tougher and now what we have to do is just win the big game."

Bill revealed a clairvoyant side of his coach not generally known before.

"Dick had in his goals this year that we would beat the Dallas Cowboys at home and we'd beat the Washington Redskins away and we'd go to the Super Bowl. He didn't say we'd win the thing, but he said we'd go to the Super Bowl."

"So I know this year he's going to say we're going to win the Super Bowl, and if he misses it will be the first time he's missed on anything he said."

Continuing with Vermeil the prognosticator, "When he first started out he was trying to instill the discipline that was obviously lacking. The second year he said let's do a little better. The third year he said let's see if we can break .500. Every year it's been a little bit better."

Football has been good to Bill Bergey. He's in the building business with his brother in Oregon, owns a farm in Ohio and a shopping center near his home in suburban Philadelphia, where rumor even has it that Bill could go into politics.

"My off-season has been so extremely busy that I haven't even been able to turn around. When you give up banquets in Nassau, engagements in Las Vegas and Vancouver - the chunk of money you get for doing that stuff is just astronomical."

"It's just unbelievable when you have to say no to this stuff. I'd love to be a winner on a Super Bowl team and see what people do then."

Coming back to reality, Bill commented, "After awhile how much money can you make? How much do you want?"

"I'm not a big-shot, big-timer, a wheeler-dealer or anything like that," said Bergey. "I've just about got everything I want until the day I die and I'm just going to be content."

"I see phony people in my business and social climbers and big-shots. It's very gratifying and rewarding to come back here to just good hometown people."

It was just as rewarding for the people of South Dayton and the Pine Valley area to see plain old Bill again.

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