Pless played his college football at the University of Kansas. As a Jayhawk starter for only three years (1983 to 1985) he amassed an amazing 633 tackles. This is not recognized as a record, as the NCAA officially counted tackles starting in 2000, but the present leader (Rod Davis) has only 360. Being 5 feet 10 inches tall and 210 pounds, Pless was not drafted by the NFL. He would later (in 1990) try out for the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs, but otherwise, his entire 14 year, 250-game career was played in Canada.
Willie Pless may be the best defensive player ever to play in the CFL. He played for 4 teams: Toronto Argonauts for 4 years (1986 to 1989), B.C. Lions for 1990, Edmonton Eskimos for (1991 to 1998) and finally the Saskatchewan Roughriders (1999). He holds the league record for most tackles (1,241). He also had 84 quarterback sacks, 39 interceptions, 39 fumble recoveries, played in 18 playoff games and three Grey Cups, winning one championship (the 81st Grey Cup game). He won the CFL's Most Outstanding Defensive Player Award five times and was an all star 11 times. Pless has settled in Edmonton and runs a personal trainer business.