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Doug Atkins
Defensive end
Jersey #(s)
Born May 8, 1930 (1930-05-08) (age 79)
Humboldt, Tennessee
Career information
Year(s) 19531969
NFL Draft 1953 / Round: 1 / Pick: 11
College Tennessee
Professional teams
Career stats
Sacks --
Games 205
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

Douglas Leon Atkins (born May 8, 1930 in Humboldt, Tennessee) is a former American football defensive end who played for the Cleveland Browns, the Chicago Bears and the New Orleans Saints. He played college football at the University of Tennessee under legendary head coach Robert Neyland. He is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Atkins was a fierce defender who was known for using his immense size and agility to his advantage. At 6'8, Atkins would often bat passes down at the line of scrimmage and would use his skills as a high jump champion to leapfrog blockers to get to the quarterback[1]. Atkins was one of the first great exclusively defensive players in Pro Football and, along with fellow Hall of Famer Gino Marchetti, revolutionized the defensive end position.


College career

Atkins originally went to the University of Tennessee on a basketball scholarship, but once football coach General Robert R. Neyland saw his combination of size and agility, he was recruited for the grid team. After he earned All-America honors in 1952, the Cleveland Browns selected him as their first choice in the 1953 NFL Draft. Atkins also played on the 1951 Tennessee Volunteers football team which won the National Championship. Atkins is only one of a few players in Tennessee history to have his number retired. He was considered one of, 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 1950-1975[2].

Pro football career

Atkins began his playing career with the Cleveland Browns, but his peak years came with the Chicago Bears during his 17 year career. Atkins' first two seasons were played with the Cleveland Browns before being traded to the Chicago Bears in 1955. In Chicago Atkins quickly became a leader of a devastating defensive unit. With the Bears Atkins made All-Pro team in 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1963; along with being a starter in the Pro Bowl in 8 of his last nine years with Chicago. Before the 1967 season Atkins requested a trade, and he was traded to New Orleans with whom he would end his career in 1969.


He made it to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was also inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame. His jersey number #91 was retired by the University of Tennessee in 2005.

Even though he only played three seasons for the New Orleans Saints, the club retired his #81, one of two numbers retired by the franchise. The other, #31, belongs to Hall of Fame fullback Jim Taylor, a long-time rival of Atkins during Taylor's days with the Green Bay Packers who played with the Saints only in 1967.

External links




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