William J. George was a professional football player, playing linebacker, for the Chicago Bears and the Los Angeles Rams.
George was born in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. He is among numerous legendary football players born in football-rich Western Pennsylvania.
He attended college at Wake Forest University, and as the Bears' second-round draft pick in 1951. He began his pro football career the following year as a middle guard in the then-standard five-man defensive front. He was also selected to play in eight consecutive Pro Bowls from 1955-1962.
It has been alleged that George was the first true middle linebacker in football and, inadvertently, the creator of the 4-3 defense. Noting during a 1954 game with the Philadelphia Eagles that his tendency to hit the center right after the snap led to the quarterback passing right over his head, he began to drop back from the line, not only enabling him to intercept and otherwise disrupt several passes from that game forward but also creating the familiar 4–3 setup.
In addition to his 18 career interceptions, George also recovered 19 fumbles, and in 1954 scored 25 points on 13 PATs and four field goals.