Former Eagles defense end William Fuller (1994-96) describes himself as a man that is always reaching for higher aspirations. In short, he is happy but never satisfied, always keeping his eyes open for a greater opportunity which may be right around the corner.
At least this is how the former free agent acquisition from Houston viewed coming to Philadelphia when he signed a three-year contract with the Eagles.
"Philadelphia came after me, hoping that I could fill the void left by Reggie (White) and Clyde (Simmons) when they left via free agency," Fuller said. "I had some great years in Houston but was overshadowed because I was on a great defense. Plus, coming to Philadelphia gave me a chance to be closer to home."
Fuller currently resides in Virginia Beach, Virginia, with his wife Precilla and their four daughters.
In his first season with the Eagles, Fuller made an instant impact along the defensive front, recording a team high 9.5 quarterback sacks. He notched at least one sack in seven straight games and subsequently broke the club record of six consecutive games which was previously shared by White and Simmons.
|DE William Fuller
"I credit a lot of the success my first year to (former) defensive coordinator Bud Carson and his scheme," Fuller said. "The artificial surface at Veterans Stadium helped me being a pass rusher because you're able to get a very quick first step generated when coming off the turf."
Fuller earned three consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl playing with the Eagles in 1994, 1995, and 1996.
"I was on top of the world because I'm sure the fans were saying things like, 'Their crazy for letting Reggie and Clyde go.' People were probably saying William who? What can he do? So I knew I had to prove myself and going to three Pro Bowls did just that."
Under the guidance of first-year head coach Ray Rhodes, the Eagles enjoyed one of the finest turnarounds in franchise history, posting a 10-6 mark and advancing to the Divisional Playoff round in 1995. The previous season, under Rich Kotite, the Eagles finished 7-9 and did not qualify for the playoffs.
"Heading into the 1995 season, we knew we had a talented team who could get after the passer, and we had great young guys in the secondary. Plus, Ray Rhodes was a great motivator," said Fuller, who led the NFC in sacks with 13 that season.
The new coach was putting those motivational skills to good use the night before the Dallas Cowboys came into town for a key NFC East matchup.
"I would love to tell you what he said to the team but it's probably not for publishing. But it opened up our eyes," said Fuller, recalling the 20-17 victory that will forever be remembered for the two 4th-and-1 stops of running back Emmitt Smith.
Fuller once stated after the game, about the pep talk given by Rhodes: "Ray described it as if the Dallas Cowboys didn't respect us. They were breaking into our house, taking food off our table, and victimizing our family. He used those types of analogies."
However, Fuller was not shocked that Coach (Barry) Switzer opted to roll the dice twice, going for it on fourth down in a tie ball game, having the ball on their own 29-yard line with two minutes remaining in the game.
"I wasn't surprised Switzer gambled because he had one of the greatest offensive lines ever and Emmitt Smith in the backfield," Fuller said. "As a defense, we knew we had faith in one another and just had to dig deep and stop them.
'I just couldn't believe it, after stopping them that the referees stepped in and said the play never counted. I'm like you've got to be kidding me! We all said we can do this, we can stop them again."
Fuller also has great memories of the Wild Card playoff game victory over the once-favored Detroit Lions.
"They came into our house on top of the world, and we were just all over them. They had great players like Herman Moore, but our defense shut them down completely in the first half, and to be honest, were surprised at how well we handled them," said Fuller, whose Eagles led 38-7 at halftime.
|DE William Fuller
One of the keys to victory was containing Lions Hall of Fame running back Barry Sanders.
"We had to play great team defense," Fuller said. "You can't totally stop Barry, so we focused on stopping the big pass play and not letting him get outside, because if he gets to the corner he is gone."
Today Fuller is involved in real estate development in the Norfolk, Virginia Beach area, heading the Fulco Development Company.
"I dabbled in real estate during my playing career, being a minority investor in several projects. It is something I continue to enjoy doing," said Fuller. "I am working with new (Charlotte Bobcats) basketball owner Bob Johnson's development company (RLJ Development) on a joint venture public/private partnership involving the city of Norfolk. It is an estimated $50 million convention center, hotel, and parking garage."
Fuller also donates his time to charities like the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, where he has helped raise over $3 million for diabetes research. He sits on the boards of Monarch Bank, Norfolk Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Virginia Aquarium and the University of North Carolina Educational Foundation.
In addition, he responded to what he likes to do during his down time.
"I enjoy fishing, playing pool, being a family man, and I'm a big fan of traveling," Fuller said.
He also enjoys jazz music and his favorite movie is Scarface, which he says is a great lesson about trying to have it all and ending up with nothing.
Still an Eagles fan today, Fuller wanted to say thank you to the Eagles loyalists.
"It was wonderful to play in front of the greatest fans in the world. Those Eagles fans are passionate and extremely dedicated. I loved playing for them," Fuller said. "I remember many times arriving for a game, and I would see those fans having a Bar-B-Q at 8 o' clock in the morning when it's less than five degrees outside. They are very passionate fans who love their Eagles."