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Wild Bill Gets His Due

Auburn star line backer Bill Cody and Coach Ralph Shug Jordan.

Auburn star line backer Bill Cody and Coach Ralph Shug Jordan. (photo:Auburn media)

He played with Auburn’s ‘Player of the Century,’ Tucker Frederickson; with Jimmy Sidle, one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play for the Tigers; and with Iron Bowl hero Mailon Kent.

He was drafted by both the NFL and the old AFL, playing linebacker with the Lions, Eagles, and the Saints. He played with such a reckless abandonment that he was given the nick name, “Wild Bill.”  I’ve always loved defensive players, especially guys like Wild Bill who could deliver those jaw rattling hits.

He has always been one of my childhood Auburn heroes and his 1963 Auburn Team has always been my favorite. It certainly was one of Coach Shug Jordan‘s favorites. There was no doubt they were loaded with talent. In addition to Frederickson, Sidle, and Kent there was also two time All-SEC guard, Bill Van Dike and future two time Super bowler, Chuck Hurston. 

Will Walls a coach with the Pittsburgh Steelers told Sports Illustrated that year, “Auburn’s got more potential pros than any team in the country. They’ve got two ends I like, two tackles, a punter, a center and a linebacker who’s flat gonna kill some people someday.” That linebacker was ‘Wild Bill’ Cody.

Cody came to Auburn from Orlando, Florida. It was a time when recruiting was not the big time high exposure process it is today. He said Coach Jordan took the unusual step of coming to see him at his home.

His family originally hailed from Jordan’s home town of Selma, prompting Shug to put his arm around him and say, “Now Bill, I know your momma and your daddy, and I know your grandmomma and your granddaddy. If you ever want to amount to anything, you need to come to Auburn.” Bill said … “I decided Auburn was for me.”

That was the beginning of a life time love affair with Auburn University. Bill has repeatedly told people, “Auburn was good to me.” And she was. His time on The Plains prepared him both to play in the NFL and for life after football, becoming a successful businessman.

But Cody has had to pay a price for all those years terrorizing running backs and quarterbacks. As a result of throwing his body so violently at offensive players, he’s had to have 16 surgeries along the way, including two knee replacements and shoulder replacements.

Wild Bill played the game so ferociously that his short term memory was also damaged from numerous concussions. But there’s nothing wrong with his long term memory. He recalls a lot of good times playing in the SEC and NFL.

He remembers beating Joe Namath and the Tide in the 1963 Iron Bowl. He remembers scoring twice against Florida in 1965 – one coming on a vicious lick on Steve Spurier, knocking the ball out and recovering it for a TD and the other on a Spurier interception. He remembers becoming a two-time All-SEC selection, the 1965 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and an All-American who went on to play seven “Wild Man” seasons in the NFL.

Now someone else has remembered. Last Saturday night Wild Bill Cody was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. It was good to see an old childhood hero of mine get his due.

Congratulations Bill and thanks for all the good times you gave a little boy from Columbus, Ga.

6 Comments

  1. domaucan1 domaucan1 says:

    Great article, as usual!

    As soon as I saw this, I sent a copy to my good friends Mickey & Dave Sutton. Mickey was a team mate of Wild Bill and Dave lives down the street from me in Big BR, LA. We are 100% Auburn Tigers, in spite of where we live. This brought back fond memories for me since I was at Auburn in vet school during this time(“63-“67). It was a great time, especially the “63 season. We’re all looking forward to the 2014 season, AND, everyone knows:

    IT’S GREAT TO BE AN AUBURN TIGER !!!

    WAR EAGLE !!!

    GO BIG BLUE !!!

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Near or far … Family is family wherever you are.

      War Eagle to the Auburn contingent in BR,La.!

  2. hello2196 says:

    Good story. Way before my time, but I always enjoy reading about some of the Auburn greats from the past. I guess at my age, I’ll be looking back on the 2013 team like you do ’63.

  3. Third Generation Tiger Third Generation Tiger says:

    If Wild Bill isn’t in the College Football HOF, he should be.

  4. SEC_Eric says:

    I wish there was a video archive somewhere, were we could watch some of the best players and teams from the last 50 years. Since I don’t know of one, I always enjoy reading articles like this one. Glad Mr.Cody got some recognition for a great career. War Eagle to Wild Bill!

    • SEC_Eric says:

      Passing down the history and the heritage of AU is important. Thanks ATM!