College and olympicsGault was born in Griffin, Georgia. A star in both football and track at the University of Tennessee, Gault was part of a world record-setting 4 x 100 meter relay team, a 110 meter hurdler who would have gone to the 1980 Summer Olympics if the United States had not boycotted the event (he did attend the Liberty Bell Classic, where he won a bronze medal in the 100 meter race) and a bobsledder (he made the American Olympic team on one occasion). He was an All-American wide receiver in 1982. Willie Gault averaged almost 24 yards per kick return and scored 4 touchdowns in 78 attempts, including 3 in 1980. His personal records are 13.26 at 110 meters hurdles and 9.95 at 100 meters.
NFL careerGault was drafted in 1983, played with the Bears until 1988 and then was traded to the Los Angeles Raiders (now Oakland Raiders). Gault was the prototypical "speed merchant", meaning his greatest asset was his pure straight line swiftness. He was the primary long-pass threat on a team known as one of best defensive teams in history. In Super Bowl XX, Gault had four receptions for 129 yards, and four kickoff returns for 49 yards. He was also featured on the Super Bowl Shuffle.
Gault finished his 11 NFL seasons with 333 receptions for 6,635 yards. He also returned 9 punts for 60 yards, rushed for 154 yards, returned 45 kickoffs for 1,088 yards, and scored 45 touchdowns (44 receiving and 1 kickoff return).
After retiring as a playerGault retired in the early 1990s and is pursuing an acting career in Hollywood. He portrayed Willie the Sweeper in the NBC series the Pretender. Willie also had an appearance on the sitcom Still Standing playing himself as the father of Tina's friend. He's had a few appearances on Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide playing himself alongside sportscaster Van Earl Wright and most recently was featured in the series finale. He also was in an episode of MTV's Parental Control pursuing his acting career. In Season 4 Episode 8 of Friday Night Lights the Dillon Lions radio color-man is named Willie Gault as a tribute.
During Super Bowl XLIV, Gault joined other members of the 1985 Chicago Bears in resurrecting the Super Bowl Shuffle in a Boost Mobile commercial.
Gault has been active at the highest levels of Masters athletics. On June 24, 2006, Gault set a world record of 10.72 seconds in the master's 100 meters, in the division for athletes aged 45 to 49. On April 26, 2008, Gault (at age 47) set a new world record of 21.80 seconds in the M45-49 age-group for 200m.
Gault has continued as a competitor, winning the M50-54 age-group 100 meter final at the 2011 Masters World Track and Field Championships in Sacramento, CA on July 9, 2011 with a time of 10.96 seconds into a 0.5 headwind, just one one-hundredth of a second over the world record for his age group, 10.95 seconds.