Tennessee legend Doug Atkins passes away
December 30, 2011
College and Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Doug Atkins, a former star at the University of Tennessee, passed away Wednesday in Knoxville, someone close to the Atkins family told GoVols247. He was 85.
The 6-foot-8 Atkins, a native of Humboldt, Tenn., initially came to Tennessee on a basketball scholarship but was recruited to the football team after legendary coach Robert Neyland saw his size and agility on the court.
Atkins is widely renowned as one of the greatest players in SEC history and is commonly credited with revolutionizing the defensive line position. He was the only unanimous selection to the SEC’s All Quarter-Century team (1950-75) and was named “Player of the Quarter-Century.”
The West Tennessee native was just as dominant at the NFL level, as well. He was named to the Pro Bowl eight times as a starter in his 17-year career and was the 1958 Pro Bowl MVP. After being selected with the 11th overall pick of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns, Atkins spent two seasons with the Browns — including one championship season in 1954 — before heading to the Chicago Bears, where he started in eight Pro Bowls in a nine-year span before ultimately leaving for the New Orleans Saints in 1967. He spent the final three seasons of his NFL career with the Saints, and the final play of his career was a game-preserving sack in 1969.
Atkins is in a rare group of players voted into the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he also was voted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. Tennessee retired his No. 91 jersey in 2005, and the Saints retired his No. 81 jersey despite him spending just three seasons in New Orleans.
The NFL’s official website and NFL Network both named Atkins the ninth best pass rusher in NFL history.
ATKINS, Doug (Douglas Leon Atkins)
Born: 5/8/1930, Humbolt, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Died: 12/30/2015, Knoxville, Tennessee, U.S.A.
Doug Atkins’ western – actor:
Breakheart Pass – 1975 (Jebbo)