Dear PoPville – Who Was Willie Wood?

by Prince Of Petworth April 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm 8 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

A couple weeks ago the unit block of N street morphed into Willie Wood Way. Now I’m all for sexual innuendo on street signs, especially when alliteration is involved, but who suddenly renamed my street?”

It was the Council of the District of Columbia:

The purpose of the public hearing is to provide the public with an opportunity to comment on the proposed legislation to symbolically designate the unit block of N STreet, N.W. between First Street, N.W., and New York Avenue, N.W., as “Willie Wood Way.”

Willie Wood is:

“a former American football safety for the Green Bay Packers in the National Football League.”

NBC Washington reported:

“The Wood family lived on that stretch of road in the 1950s.”

  • Anon3

    Excellent. Go Pack!!!!

    Your loyal reader from Green Bay, WI. :)

  • bryandc

    Willie Wood was born here in DC, played quarterback at USC, and almost didn’t make it into the NFL.

    There’s a nice write up about him on packers.com:

    “One of the most exceptional defensive players in NFL history, Willie Wood almost saw his goal of playing professional football pass him by.

    A quarterback at USC, Wood was bypassed in the draft and had to resort to a letter-writing campaign to get a shot in the pros. Writing letters on Wood’s behalf was his Washington, D.C., Boys Club coach, Bill Butler, who had used similar methods to attract USC coaches years earlier.

    The challenges facing Wood in trying to make his way in the NFL were multiple. For starters, Wood was entering professional football in an era of prejudice when black athletes were largely considered unfit for the quarterback position. Beyond that, Wood was coming off a severe collar bone injury that had hampered him over two collegiate seasons, and, at only 160 pounds, he was vastly undersized.

    Wood’s letters went out to several teams including the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Los Angeles Rams, but only the Packers responded.”


  • Annonny

    I’m a big fan of renaming the DC streets in honor of local (and national) heroes. Reminds me of other great cities that have done the same, and gives us a bit of variety!

  • “Who was Willie Wood?” – Questions like that make me sad.
    Go Pack Go! At least now a small section of DC has a tangible reminder of football greatness.

    • caballero

      The Pack could have used Willie Wood in its backfield this year.

  • Anonymous

    I thought Bill finally got it passed to have a DC street named in honor of his white house nickname.

  • Sad follow-up from Wikipedia; NFL needs to start taking care of its former players:
    “Willie is currently living in an assisted care facility and has had many operative procedures as a result of his being injured during his NFL career. He has had replacement knees and replacement hips, dementia and forgetfulness, and his current NFL pension of a little over $1100 per month is just not enough to pay all of his bills. In the Washington area a benefit is being held for Willie to help raise over $25,000 to pay his medical bills. His situation is one of many of former NFL players suffering from disabilities and even dementia and need a lot more help than the NFL is willing to provide to ex-players.”

  • ClevelandDave

    It is all great and everything, but this does not seem to rise to the level of naming a street after Mr. Wood. I mean this isn’t Duke Ellington or a former well regarded mayor or the like. He lived on the street. He was in the NFL. He didn’t have a great career- or any career in DC. I say save street naming, honorary or otherwise for for the most outstanding figures in history with a connection to that location, and mostly for those whose great accomplisments happened in DC.


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