Wednesday, December 30, 2015

RIP Doug Atkins

It's been a rough week for celebrity deaths.  In the last few days, we've lost beloved sporting heroes Dave Henderson and Meadowlark Lemon, not to mention the unparalleled frontman of Hawkwind & Motorhead - Lemmy Kilmister.  They say these things come in threes; however, earlier this evening we had a fourth loss:  Hall of Fame defensive end Doug Atkins.

Atkins lived himself a full life, passing away at the age of 85 in Knoxville, TN from as-of-yet unspecified causes. Number 81 played 17 seasons in the NFL, including 12 with the Bears (1955-66), All the while, he made 8 Pro Bowls and won NFL championships with the Browns (1954) and Bears (1963) in the pre-Super Bowl era. Not a bad resume.

The Tennessee native was an absolute beast in college too, having played on the 1951 Tennessee Volunteers football team that won the national championship. For his hard work, Atkins was the only unanimous selection to the SEC All Quarter-Century team and was named as the SEC "Player of the Quarter-Century" for the period of 1950 to 1975

                                                     Image borrowed from The Trading Card Database

To end his playing career with emphasis, on the final play of his NFL career, Atkins sacked Steelers quarterback Dick Shiner, preserving a 27-24 victory for the Saints in the 1969 season finale.  Unfortunately, injuries brought his career to an end shortly thereafter.

Doug was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Additionally, his collegiate jersey number, #91, was retired by the University of Tennessee in 2005.  The Saints even retired his pro digits, despite only playing there for two seasons, one of only two numbers removed from circulation by the franchise.

As you can see from the photo selection on the '98 Fan Convention single at the top of this post, Atkins had some hops.  It's no coincidence that he was also a conference track champion in the high jump in his collegiate days.

RIP Doug.  I hope you passed away peacefully in your sleep.  Meanwhile, fingers crossed this loss is an exception that this doesn't start a new three-person cycle.

1 comment:

  1. It's been a rough week as far as celebrity deaths. The drummer from The Specials also died a few days back too. Easily past the cycle of three this week.