Where are they now: Former UGA running back Tim Worley

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By Kevin Keneely:

Former University of Georgia great Tim Worley burst onto the football scene as a Parade All-American running back and a state champion in the 100 meter and 200 meter dash. Recruited to Georgia in 1985, the Lumberton (NC) High standout was poised for greatness and he made an instant impact with the Dawgs.

As a freshman, Worley rushed for 627 yards and led the team with 10 total touchdowns, nine of which were rushing touchdowns. During that season, he helped UGA upset the No. 1 Florida Gators 24-3, marking the only time in UGA history the Bulldogs defeated the No. 1 ranked team in the nation. When I asked Worley what was his career highlight play at UGA, not surprisingly he quickly responded with “the 89-yard touchdown I ran against the University of Florida as a freshman.”

As a sophomore, Worley’s season ended early due to a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The injury was so severe that his rehab took two years and required him to sit out his junior season. Some thought the injury was a career ender for Worley, but he made an incredible return and led the team in rushing with 1,216 rushing yards (6.4 yards per carry) and 17 touchdowns. He was selected to several All-American teams and was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Worley finished his Georgia career with 2,038 yards and 27 touchdowns. To this day, Worley will tell you that the 1988 senior season was one of the greatest highlights of his college career. “It was my return to the gridiron,” Worley said.

Worley had something to prove to NFL scouts and coaches since he had missed nearly two straight years. He did just that with his impressive senior season, as he was the seventh player taken in the 1989 NFL draft and the number one draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

While growing up in eastern North Carolina, Worley had been a diehard Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Being a Steeler fan, he stood out amongst his neighbors. “We had a lot of Redskins and Cowboy fans in the neighborhood,” Worley told me. Growing up, he followed the championship years of Pittsburgh and his favorite Steelers “Mean Joe” Greene and Mel Blount. Blount had that aggressive and killer instinct on the field that Worley admired. “He was mean and rough on the field,” a smiling Worley said.

In every sport, being a team’s top draft pick comes with high expectations and can sometimes be too much for a player to handle. “There is a lot of pressure to perform immediately,” Worley said. He admitted to me that he feels the pressure did get to him. “The Steelers were looking for me to come in and have a huge impact immediately considering the type of athlete I was,” he stated.

Worley showed the Steeler organization that he was worth their top pick with a promising rookie season. He finished his first year in the NFL with 770 rushing yards, 113 receiving yards and five touchdowns. After his rookie season, Worley’s production decreased due to fumble problems and off the field incidents. “I probably got one and a half or two years that I was productive before I sabotaged my career,” Worley said. “I got caught up in the lifestyle.”

Once drafted, Worley suddenly became a wealthy young man. “I didn’t have great character with the responsibilities laid on me,” Worley said. “Everything was just party, party, party,” he stated. During the off-season after his third year with the Steelers, Worley skipped a mandatory drug test and was suspended. “That was one of my lowest moments as an athlete,” he confided. This resulted in Worley’s one-year suspension and the forfeit of his season’s salary. The Steelers traded Worley to the Chicago Bears in 1993, however, Worley only played two seasons with the Bears before retiring from the NFL.

In 2008, Worley’s legal troubles resurfaced after an altercation with Smyrna, Georgia police during a traffic arrest. Worley credited that incident as a life-changing moment and prompted his re-commitment to his faith and ignited his entrepreneurial spirit.

The following year, Worley co-founded the consulting firm Worley Global Enterprises (WGE) with his wife, Dee. He became John C. Maxwell certified as a speaker and mentor and does motivational speaking, with a focus on life skills consulting. “I get a chance to speak all over the country,” Worley said.

“One of my biggest fears was talking in front of people and now it’s a passion,” he said. Dee is his business partner and handles all the behind the scenes work, the marketing communications division and has 24 years of experience in brand marketing and public relations. “She’s the nuts and the bolts of the company and everything goes through her,” Worley said. “I’m the one behind the mic and in front of everybody but she’s behind the scene.”

Worley and Dee began dating 28 years ago during his junior year at UGA. They eventually broke up and the separation was very tough on him. “I knew she was suppose to be my wife the first time I ever met her,” Worley told me. Even though they were not dating at the time, Worley was extremely proud of Dee’s accomplishments at the University of Alabama. “She was the first African American gymnast at Alabama in ’89,” Worley proudly stated. To go along with her success in gymnastics, she graduated with a degree in interdisciplinary studies. Twenty-one years after they first started dating, Dee scrolled over Worley’s Facebook and sent him a message, which ignited the second coming of their relationship. In 2010, the former SEC athletes married, leading to the creation of WGE.

Previously, Worley worked as a chaplain for Downtown Rescue Mission in Huntsville, Alabama. In October 2015, he said it was time to move on and devote his full time and energies to WGE. “I shouldn’t be here, I should be dead but the good Lord gave me another opportunity,” Worley said. “I have a hatred of people sabotaging their lives and their career,” he continued.

Worley has addressed the Georgia football team nine times since he retired. Former coach Mark Richt brought him in eight times and Kirby Smart called him in to speak to the players after the first day of spring practice. “I know what it’s like to be a 5-star athlete, I know what it’s like to be a first round draft choice,” Worley said. “I want to teach these kids to help them form higher ground habits and form an inner restraint.”

The biggest problem Worley sees with this generation of athletes is that most of them do not have father figures within their household. “It’s a fatherless generation and that truly affects them. Now you have coaches coaching and being the father figure at the same time,” he explained. Coaches and police officers don’t sound like moms and so when they are given orders or instructions from a coach or an officer, “they buck because they aren’t use to order.”

When Worley was in his late 30s he was forced to move back in with his parents. He used this time to get closer to his parents. He credits the good Lord for helping him gain a better understanding of both his mother and father. Worley repeated to me to “honor your mother and father.” He is grateful that he has two loving parents that allowed him to come back home when he had nowhere else to turn. Coming back brought back a lot of childhood memories and experiences he had growing up. They helped him overcome his past difficulties, his failures and humiliation he faced.

Additionally to speaking with college athletes, Worley also addresses NFL teams and players. Worley recalled an opportunity to speak with the Tennessee Titans team and rookies. “For rookies entering the league, it’s important for them to have guidance and a basic understanding of what comes with the fame and fortune,” he stated. As a life skills consultant with first-hand experience with the ups and downs of the NFL, Worley knows exactly what these players need to hear. It was a successful experience but he said it took a little while for the players to pay attention. “When I said I was the 7th pick in the first round, everybody perked up,” Worley said. “Being a first round pick comes with respect, not because they deserve respect but because players feel like they can look up to the first rounders’ and learn from them,” he offered.

Worley knew from a young age that he was meant to stand out and was given a special gift. When he was nine years old, his childhood minister, Madeline Rogers, called him out; she told him that he was different. “All my life I always knew something different was pushing me. Even at the highest point of my career I always felt different,” Worley said. “Something else was driving me on the inside and I knew it was different.” When he was 16, Rogers told him “you’ll be responsible for souls.” At the time he had no idea what it meant. “It scared me so bad,” Worley said. Rogers came back when he was in his third year in the NFL and repeated what she told him when he was 16. This time he tried to distance himself from Rogers. “I did not want that burden on me,” Worley said. But no matter what he did, he could not escape the idea that she had already implanted in his head. He knew he was different, began to accept it and began a path he felt God made for him. “He anointed me to speak, to influence, to encourage and to preach the gospel,” Worley professed.

His life now revolves around God and spreading the word of God in order to lead people in the right direction. He is currently doing ministry training at Living Water Ministries. The program will complement his life skills consulting work during his speaking engagements with athletes and others.

Tim Worley has known the highest peaks of athletic competition and achievement and experienced its lowest depths. Youth provided so many opportunities and also contributed to losing those privileged opportunities. Through hard work, education, commitment and family support, Worley has re-shaped his life and is delivering a winning message to individuals and organizations. You can visit Tim and Dee Worley at www. WorleyGlobalEnterprises.com. His next appearance comes August 12 in Perry, Georgia, at the Awakening” Men’s Conference.

A Dawg Forever.

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