Willie "Flipper" Anderson played for the Rams from 1988-1994 after playing college football at UCLA. He still holds the NFL record for most receiving yards in a game with 15 catches for 336 yards vs. the New Orleans Saints in 1989. Anderson also caught the winning touchdown in overtime vs. the New York Giants to win a 1990 NFC divisional playoff game.
Q&A Interview with Willie "Flipper" Anderson, WR 1988-1994
Q: What is your current occupation and/or what is your favorite thing to do in free/spare time?
A: Well, currently I work for myself; I am a private contractor and I referee basketball. I am a basketball official. I officiate on all levels from high school to junior college basketball and I do some division three college basketball. It's fun—I like it. It keeps me in shape and gets me out of the house. Ultimately, it funds my favorite thing to do with all the free time that I have—golfing. I try to get out four or five times a month. Golf and spending time with my family—that's what I like to do these days.
Q: What is your favorite memory while playing for the Rams organization?
A: Probably just the comradery that I felt with the players and the friendships you build in the locker room with your teammates. There's just no way that you can imitate that life really. The feelings that you have towards those guys by playing with them and for them, you can't just find that in any other walk of life. The comradery that you build with those guys is just something that you can't explain. I miss that a lot.
Q: If you could go back and replay one game during your career, which game would that be and why?
A: The game that I probably remember most was the game that I broke the NFL record for the most yards (336 yards) in a single game against the New Orleans Saints back in 1989. It was just one of those magical nights in New Orleans and everything went right that night. It's incredible that the record is still standing today and it's a night that I'll never forget.
Q: What, if any was your "pre-game" ritual back in the day?
A: Growing up a religious person, I didn't have any good luck stuff or any rituals like that. I really didn't have any pregame rituals, nothing out of the ordinary that any other guys didn't do. I would make sure that I was warmed up and that I looked good; you know we had to look good to play good, so I made sure my uniform looked good! I wasn't a superstitious person. If I dropped the ball, I never took it back to the huddle with me because I was on to the next play and moving on to what's next. I really wasn't a superstitious or bad luck type of guy.
Q: Who, in your opinion, was the best player you ever played with?
A: My whole time with the Rams, the seven out of the ten years that I played in the NFL, my locker was right next to the great Hall of Famer, Jackie Ray Slater. Being a wide receiver, I got to see him do a lot of work when I was looking down to the line of scrimmage. I saw him take on a lot of defensive ends and he did a very good job against them most of the time. He has taught me a lot. In the locker room, he was next to me and I was next to a wall so he was my only locker roommate, so it's got to be Jackie Slater.
Q: If you could go back and give the rookie Flipper Anderson a piece of advice, what would it be?
A: One of the biggest thing I would do and tell the kids nowadays is to not to take your job for granted. I was probably given a lot of raw talent, probably a lot of those kids have the same talent if not better and I always did just enough to get by. I think I had a pretty decent career, but I think if I would have done just a little extra, like lifting weights, running more, extra film work, hanging around after practice, not trying to get out and go out to a club or something—I think I could have taken my game to the next level. I always did "just enough" and I think if I had just done the extra little bit, I probably could have been an extra little bit more remembered in the NFL.
Q: What was the name of your first pet, what kind of animal was it, and what happened to it?
A: My first pet that I bought when I bought once I was in the NFL was a Chow-Chow dog named Jesse. I did a little research on what kind of dogs they were and I really liked the way that they looked because they were unique in their look and fashion and I knew they were playful in families and protective with kids. I was in that part of my life with a new family and starting to have some kids and so we chose a Chow-Chow and we had him until he passed away of old age. He lived a good life!
Q: If you could see a concert of any performer, dead or alive, who would it be?
A: It's got to be Michael Jackson. He's the greatest performer, in my mind, that there ever was. I never got the chance to see him even though I was in Los Angeles for about 20 years and I was truly a big fan and was sad to see him go the way that he did. I was wishing for his comeback and I'm sad I didn't get to see him in person.
Q: Who do you admire most and why?
A: Anyone who knows me closely knows that my grandparents were very instrumental in the way that I was raised and who I am today. My mother was very young when she had me—she was 15. She was still at the house though. When I was two years old, my mom decided to go back to school and on to college, so my grandparents took me in and raised me from the age of two, along with seven boys of their own. So, I just became the younger child in the group. They took me in and the neighborhood did too. When I look back on it, in a three bedroom house we probably had about eight to ten of us in there, four or five to a room. The stuff they did was incredible to keep us hungry guys fed and I never knew what they did in order to make that happen, but I really admire them for that.
Q: Favorite visiting city when you were playing and why?
A: I grew up in the New Jersey/Philadelphia area and I ended up going to school at UCLA, so whenever I had a chance to go back to Philadelphia, it was a great time. We'd go back and play the Eagles; I'd get to see my family, got to eat some home cooked food. They could come see me play since most of them didn't get the chance to come out to Los Angeles. I got to bring some of my teammates over to my house to see how I was raised, see my old high school, try some of my grandmother's food and enjoy some of the good times I had when I was in Philly. It's got to be Philadelphia for me. Maybe not for a lot of other players, but that was probably my most fun place to visit.
Q: Looking back on your career, what would you say was your biggest success or what were you most proud of?
A: Probably that I could stay in a league that's hard to stay in—like they say in the NFL: Not For Long. So, to be able to play in a league that's so competitive and so physical for 10 years. I wasn't a big guy myself; I weighed about 170lbs, whereas all those big dudes were out there and I was proud of that. To see the way that they do today, I sometimes have to pat myself on the back and think, "I cannot believe that I survived in that league." It's crucial out there. I could have said my legacy is my NFL record or playoff games here or there, but just playing in that league for as long as I did, that's a huge accomplishment.
Q: Which three former Rams teammates would you like to have dinner with tonight?
A: It would be Henry Ellard. He taught me a lot of the ropes when I came into the league and how to be an NFL wide receiver. Like I said, my locker was next to Jackie Ray Slater. We talked all day, every day about life as an NFL player and for it not to be taken for granted. One of my best friends that was there, Pat Carter, was a tight end who was there throughout my career when I was with the Rams and was just a really good friend to me on and off the field. We did a lot together, spent a lot of time at each other's houses. Those are probably my three guys—Henry Ellard, Jackie Slater and Pat Carter.
Q: Is there a motto in which you live your life by?
A: I would say: hard work. Hard work always pays off in the long run. I live by that and I keep my kids attune to that. There are no short cuts in life. There are no short cuts in the game. If you want to succeed, you have to do the hard work. Start from the bottom and you can work your way up. Do the work. Do the work and it will pay off for you.
Q: If you could say something to the guys on the current Rams team right now what would you say to the team?
A: I would say take care of your money and work hard. Don't take your position for granted. I can't say that enough. Don't take this life for granted. It's a privileged life you have as a professional athlete and to get there it probably took hard work, so continue to work hard and it'll pay off in the long run.