Doug Atkins, Football Legend And Hall Of Famer, Dies At 85
Doug Atkins, former football player for the University of Tennessee, passed away Wednesday. He was 85.Advertisement
Atkins’ death was confirmed by his son, Dalton, New York Times reports.
With a height of 6-foot-8 and weighing 280 pounds, Atkins was a formidable player during his time. “He looked like Michelangelo’s David physically,” Bill Curry, former NFL offensive lineman, said. “That’s what he looked like. Just huge. He was perfectly proportioned. … He was symmetrical, but he was just so much bigger and stronger than any of the rest of us.”
According to ESPN, during his 17-year career playing for Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears and New Orleans Saints, Atkins was a four-time all-NFL selection and appeared at the Pro Bowl eight times. He was a member of the championship teams in 1954 for Cleveland and in 1963 for Chicago.
“Doug Atkins is an all-time great who will be remembered as one of the pillars of the 1963 Championship Bears. He had a freakish combination of size and athletic ability and was as tough as anyone who ever stepped on a football field,” Bears chairman, George McCaskey, said. “Doug wasn’t afraid to offer his opinion off the field as well and had a unique communication style when it came to interacting with Coach (George) Halas. He embodied the spirit and commitment of what it means to be a Bear. Our prayers are with Doug’s wife, Sylvia, and their family.”
The Saints retired his No. 81 jersey. On the other hand, Tennessee retired his No. 91 jersey. He was named the ninth best pass rusher in the history of NFL, according to the NFL’s official website and NFL Network, 247Sports reports.
“[Atkins] was one of the most physical guys that played the game ever,” Hall of Famer Mike Ditka said. “Nobody messed with Doug, believe me.”
“Doug Atkins was one of the best who ever played at Tennessee,” Tennessee athletic administrator Gus Manning said. “He was a real competitor and extremely tough.”
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982; and in 1985, into the College Football Hall of Fame. He, along with Reggie White, are the only Tennessee players to have reached this milestone.
“Football has been good to me,” Atkins once said in his Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinement speech. “It has been my life.”