Doug Atkins

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Doug Atkins
Doug Atkins - 1954 Bowman.jpg
Atkins on a 1954 Bowman football card
No. 83, 81
Position: Defensive end
Personal information
Born:(1930-05-08)May 8, 1930
Humboldt, Tennessee, U.S.
Died:December 30, 2015(2015-12-30) (aged 85)
Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.
Height:6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)
Weight:257 lb (117 kg)
Career information
High school:Humboldt
College: Tennessee (1950–1952)
NFL draft: 1953  / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Sacks:94.5
Safeties:1
Fumble recoveries:11
Interceptions:3
Player stats at NFL.com  ·  PFR

Douglas Leon Atkins (May 8, 1930 – December 30, 2015) was an American football defensive end who played for the Cleveland Browns, the Chicago Bears, and the New Orleans Saints in the National Football League (NFL). He played college football for the Tennessee Volunteers under head coach Robert Neyland. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Atkins was also drafted to the NBA in the 17th round by the Minneapolis Lakers in the 1953 NBA draft.

Contents

Atkins was a fierce defender who was known for using his immense size and agility to his advantage. At 6 feet 8 inches (2.03 m), Atkins often batted passes down at the line of scrimmage and used his skills as a high jump champion to leapfrog blockers and get to the quarterback. Atkins was one of the first great exclusively defensive players in professional football and, along with fellow Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti, revolutionized the defensive end position. [1]

Amateur career

Atkins was born May 8, 1930, in Humboldt, Tennessee. [2] He attended Humboldt High School and played for the school's basketball team, which won the state championship in 1949 with an undefeated record. [3] [4] He enrolled at the University of Tennessee to play for the Tennessee Volunteers of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) on a basketball scholarship, but once American football head coach Robert Neyland saw his combination of size and agility, he was recruited for the football team. [5] Atkins played on the 1951 Tennessee Volunteers football team that won the national championship. [3] He earned All-America honors in 1952. Atkins is one of the few players in Tennessee history to have his number retired. He was considered one of the, if not the, most dominant defensive players in SEC history. Atkins was the only unanimous selection to the SEC All Quarter-Century team and was selected as the overall SEC "Player of the Quarter-Century" for the years 1950 to 1975. [6] At Tennessee, Atkins also lettered in three seasons in track and field [7] and one season in basketball. [8] He finished runner-up in the high jump at the 1952 Southeastern Conference championships with a mark of 6' 6" (1.98m) which placed him 25th in the world that year. [9] [10]

Professional career

The Cleveland Browns selected Atkins in the first round with the 11th overall selection in the 1953 NFL draft. [11] [12] He played his first two seasons in the NFL with the Browns, winning the NFL Eastern Conference in 1953, and the NFL Championship in 1954. [13] The Browns traded Atkins and Ken Gorgal to the Chicago Bears for a third-round and a sixth-round pick in the 1956 NFL draft. [14] [15] According to Pat Summerall, Atkins was traded by Paul Brown for burping out loud in a team meeting. In Chicago, Atkins quickly became the leader of a devastating defensive unit. With the Bears, Atkins was a First-team All-Pro selection in 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1963, along with being a starter in the Pro Bowl in eight of his last nine years with Chicago. [16] Atkins' reputation of being rebellious of authority continued in Chicago. Once, Atkins was ordered by a coach to run laps during practice and was told to wear his helmet while doing so, as the weather was hot. When the coach looked at Atkins again, he was running laps wearing only his helmet, having stripped himself of his uniform and pads.

At the 1966 Pro Bowl, Atkins announced his retirement from football. He changed his mind and signed with the Bears for the 1966 season. [17] Before the 1967 season, Atkins requested a trade from Chicago and was traded to the New Orleans Saints. He suffered a fractured knee cap during the 1968 season. [18] He retired after the 1969 season. On the final play of his NFL career, Atkins sacked Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Dick Shiner, preserving the Saints' 27–24 victory in the 1969 season finale. [19]

NFL career statistics

Legend
Won the NFL championship
Led the league
BoldCareer high
UnderlineIncomplete data

Regular season

YearTeamGamesTacklesInterceptionsFumbles
GPGSSckSftyIntYdsY/ILngTDFRYdsY/FTD
1953 CLE 8800000000
1954 CLE 12300000000
1955 CHI 121100000000
1956 CHI 6100000000
1957 CHI 12600000100.00
1958 CHI 12120000022814.00
1959 CHI 121200000000
1960 CHI 12129.500000166.00
1961 CHI 14149.000000200.00
1962 CHI 141010.500000200.00
1963 CHI 141412.01100.000000
1964 CHI 12115.000000000
1965 CHI 141410.50100.000100.00
1966 CHI 12128.00133.030000
1967 NO 14119.500000100.00
1968 NO 111112.500000000
1969 NO 14148.000000100.00
Career 20517694.51331.03011343.10

Postseason

YearTeamGamesSck
GPGS
1953 CLE 10
1954 CLE 10
1956 CHI 10
1963 CHI 110.0
Career 410.0

Honors

Atkins was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985. [20] He has also been inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. During John W. Mecom Jr.'s ownership of the Saints, his #81 was retired. However, it was unretired in 1993. [21] His collegiate jersey number, #91, was retired by the University of Tennessee in 2005. [22]

The NFL Network ranked him as the number 9 Pass Rusher of All Time in its Top Ten show. [23] During a 1983 segment about Atkins on the NFL Films show "This Is the NFL", legendary narrator John Facenda described Atkins "like a storm rolling over a Kansas farmhouse. He came from all directions, and all there was to do was to tie down what you could, and hope he didn't take the roof". [24]

Personal life

Atkins married twice. His first wife was from Humboldt, and he married his second wife, from Milan, Tennessee, after the death of his first wife. [3] He played a minor acting role as "Jebbo" in the 1975 film, Breakheart Pass , starring Charles Bronson. After he retired from the NFL, Atkins worked in various jobs, including as an exterminator, as a pipe system manager, and selling caskets to funeral homes. [25]

Atkins died of natural causes at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in Knoxville, Tennessee, on December 30, 2015, at the age of 85. [26] He was survived by his wife, brother, and three sons. [3]

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References

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  2. Schudel, Matt (December 30, 2015). "Doug Atkins, intimidating Hall of Fame defensive end, dies at 85". The Washington Post. ISSN   0190-8286 . Retrieved January 5, 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Shields, Andrew (December 30, 2015). "UT, Humboldt football legend Doug Atkins dies". The Jackson Sun. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  4. "1949 State Boys' Basketball Tournament Central". TSSAA. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  5. "Doug Atkins, intimidating Hall of Fame pass rusher, dies at 85". NBC Sports. December 30, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  6. "Vol legend Doug Atkins dies at 85". WBIR. December 30, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  7. "2012 Tennessee Track & Field Media Guide". ISSUU.com. January 9, 2012.
  8. "Sidearm Sports Learfield, opens a new window" (PDF). Tennessee Volunteers Athletics. Retrieved August 12, 2022.
  9. "Southeastern Conference". Track & Field News . June 1952. ISSN   0041-0284.
  10. West, Marvin (May 28, 2018). "Flowers and No. 7". Knox TN Today. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  11. "1953 NFL Draft Listing". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  12. "Hall of Fame defensive end Doug Atkins dies at 85". ESPN.com. Associated Press. December 30, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  13. "UT great, NFL Hall of Famer Doug Atkins dies at 85". The Tennessean. December 30, 2015. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  14. Goldstein, Richard (December 30, 2015). "Doug Atkins, Feared Pass-Rusher, Dies at 85". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  15. Campbell, David (April 30, 2009). "Ranking the best and worst trades in Cleveland sports history". cleveland.com. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  16. Rucker, Wes (December 30, 2015). "Tennessee Vols football legend Doug Atkins passes away". GoVols247. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
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  18. "Doug Atkins Is Disabled". Gettysburg Times. Associated Press. November 29, 1968. Retrieved December 30, 2015 via Google News.
  19. Clements, Ron (December 30, 2015). "Pro Football Hall of Famer Doug Atkins dead at 85". Sporting News. Archived from the original on January 4, 2016. Retrieved December 31, 2015.
  20. "Doug Atkins, Pro Football Hall of Famer and original Saint, dies at 85". NewOrleansSaints.com. December 30, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  21. Duncan, Jeff (June 16, 2022). "You won't see a Saints player wear jersey Nos. 8 or 9 again. Here's why". NOLA.com. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  22. Kirkham, Nathan (November 17, 2005). "Tennessee Retires Doug Atkins No. 91". National Football Foundation. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  23. "Top Ten Pass Rushers: Doug Atkins". NFL.com. Retrieved December 30, 2015.
  24. Mattingly, Tom. "'A storm blowing over a Kansas farm house'". The Knoxville Focus. Retrieved March 17, 2024.
  25. "From Football to Caskets For Former All-Pro Atkins". The Victoria Advocate. Associated Press. April 7, 1975. Retrieved December 31, 2015 via Google News.
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