Atkins #4

In this interview segment with Hall of Fame Defensive End Doug Atkins, Atkins combines stories from his playing days with his views on the current state of the NFL. Atkins also offers his thoughts and opinions on topics such as drug testing in professional sports, the ways in which the game has changed since he's played, and the 1985 Chicago bears team.

00:00Copy video clip URL Color bars.

00:55Copy video clip URL Doug Atkins continues telling a story about the two detectives that head Bears head coach George Halas had hired to spy on the team. Atkins says that after meeting with the two detectives, they told him that their job was to follow around certain players, write reports about them, and hand them in to Halas. Atkins talks about how discovering this information led to a confrontation between he and Halas.

02:03Copy video clip URL Atkins proceeds to tell about the aftermath of the incident with the detective agency and Halas, saying that due to the events that transpired, he was fined half a game’s salary, which was eventually returned to Atkins’s wife after a year of good behavior.

02:39Copy video clip URL  Atkins talks about Halas and how he had expressed gratitude to Atkins, thanking him for allowing him to hire the detectives, which Halas said would make the team stronger for the next season. Atkins speculates that Halas’s spontaneity and intensity was what made him such an interesting coach to play for. “He was really something else. And he was fun to party with, or  talk to, or be out in a group with, if you didn’t have to play for him.”

03:33Copy video clip URL Atkins recounts the story that led to his signing with the Chicago Bears, beginning with his signing to the Cleveland Browns as the number one draft pick, where his signing bonus was “two cheeseburgers and eight beers.” He describes the way that football contracts were when he had played, wherein a player was only given a salary for the games in which he actually played on the field.

05:22Copy video clip URL Getting back to his relationship with George Halas, Atkins talks about a year in which he backed out of his contract with the Bears and was fined $900 for his refusal to attend practice for 9 days. The $900 he would have made playing was accounted for on his W-2 Form at the end of the year, which Atkins contested. Atkins says that Halas justified the fines by saying that the fined money went to charity, but Atkins muses that Halas had been fining players, taxing the fines, and keeping the extra money for himself.

06:55Copy video clip URL Atkins explains that he holds no animosity or resentment toward Halas, saying that after his playing days, he felt that he had said everything he had needed to say to him, while the other players kept quiet until they left the team. “Halas and I had our differences, but I told him what I thought when I played with him . . . I noticed a lot of the people after they got away from him, they started to kind of knock at him and say things that I thought they should have said while they were playing.” Atkins goes on to speak about the mutual respect that he and Halas had for one another, despite their arguments.

07:55Copy video clip URL Reflecting on his relationship with Halas after his football playing days, Atkins talks about a time when Halas had given him an extra $1,000 for coming to the 1963 team reunion charity event when he had badly needed the money. Atkins discusses getting older, which has led him to a better understanding of Halas’s stinginess, saying that he holds no ill will toward him whatsoever. “I’m not bitter. You can’t look back; somebody might catch you.”

09:05Copy video clip URL On the topic of drugs in professional sports, Atkins offers his feelings on the subject, saying that he is unable to understand the mentality of drug-abusing athletes. “I can’t believe people would do that . . . I can’t understand what they’re doing to themselves.” Atkins then explains that in the days when he was playing football, Martinis were about as serious as drugs or alcohol got. Though he says that he is not necessarily against players doing drugs, Atkins believes that the NFL and respective universities could take a firmer stand on the subject.

11:04Copy video clip URL Atkins tells about his belief that college athletes are pampered excessively in present day football, giving his views on mandatory drug testing, and college athletes’ objections to it.

11:36Copy video clip URL Though he realizes that players in the NFL make a large sum more than he did when he played, Atkins explains that he is much happier having played when he did, rather than having to deal with the problems that present day players do.

12:23Copy video clip URL Atkins describes what it is like to be on a winning team and the feeling of fulfillment that follows winning an important game.  He then explains that when he was playing football, the Superbowl did not exist. Rather, the teams with the best records would play each other in the “Championship Game,” of which he won 2 and played in 4. Atkins goes on to discuss the stigma attached to the introduction of the Superbowl into the NFL, which caused may fans to forget about the Championship Games that came before. Atkins explains that the Championship Games pitted the best 2 teams in the 12-team league against each other, with 32 players on each team. These games, he says, were much more difficult to play in, as opposed to The Superbowl, which is comprised of 2 teams with 40-50 man rosters.

14:14Copy video clip URL Atkins notes that he was one of the taller players in the NFL at the time, naming Ernie Ladd and Bob St. Clair as players he knew of that were taller than he was. He compares his playing height during his playing time to the average build of current football players, saying that, “Really now, 6’7″, and 270 lbs. is small.”

15:13Copy video clip URL Atkins talks about his method of pursuing ball carriers, which differs from the way he’s seen current defensemen play. Atkins attributes the mistakes he’s seen players make on the field to a lack of the teaching of fundamentals in the sport. “It’s like anything else, the game has changed. I’m not knocking it, but they sure dilute it a lot.”

16:35Copy video clip URL Recalling his days rushing quarterbacks, Atkins says that he believes that football is “still the best game there is,” though he admits that because he’s seen so much of it, he does not follow it very closely anymore.

17:06Copy video clip URL Atkins discusses how he feels physically at the present time. “I still can complain and gripe a little bit. Long as I’m griping, I’m happy, so, I guess everything is going pretty good.”

17:42Copy video clip URL Atkins compares the present day, 1985 Chicago Bears to the 1963 team that he had played on. He submits that the present day Bears seem to be a bit stronger of a team than his old team, especially offensively.

19:35Copy video clip URL B-roll tilt shot of a framed picture of Atkins during his playing days, which reads, “Player of the Quarter Century: Doug Atkins”.

20:15Copy video clip URL End of tape.



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