Bill Bates started his career while playing as a safety for the University of Tennessee. While he was there he was named second-team All-Southeastern Conference his junior and senior seasons, and developed a reputation as the team’s hardest hitter and quickest tackler.
Bill Bates was much smaller than other safeties in the league and for that reason he was not drafted in the NFL Draft. However, the Cowboys were impressed with his sheer determination and heart that he displayed in college and decided to sign him as an undrafted player in 1983. Bill immediately became a visible figure on the field with his ferocious special teams play. It was due to his amazing seaon as a fierce special teams player that the NFL changed the rules and added a spot on the Pro-Bowl team for special teams coverage player. In 1984, he became the first NFL player to be honored.
Bill was an inspirational leader both on and off the field, and in 1990 Head Coach Jimmy Johnson named him the Cowboy’s Special Team’s captain. He held that position for the duration of his career with Dallas Cowboys, a career that spanned from 1983-1996.
Bill was a big part of the 1992, 1993 and 1995 Super Bowl Champions team, and has been a long time favorite of Cowboys fans. While playing linebacker, his last minute interception at Chicago’s Soldier Field preserved Dallas’ 17 – 13 win in the team’s triumphant return to the playoffs after a six year absence, and will surely go down as one of the big plays in the rebuilding of the Dallas Cowboys.
Bill was selected to the All-Madden Team for twelve years in a row, and was named the winner of the Bob Lilly Award four years in a row, from 1990 – 1994. This award is selected by a vote of the fans and annually goes to the Cowboy player who displays leadership and character on and off the field. He is a true Legend of the Star.
Legends of the Star is an exclusive weekly feature found only on StarStruck. Each week we will profile one of the many interesting personalities that have played for the Dallas Cowboys.