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 so impressed with his sheer determination and heart that he displayed in college, that they decided to sign him as an undrafted free agent in 1983… Great move!
Bill immediately became a visible figure on the field with his ferocious special teams play. It was due to his amazing season as a fierce special teams player that the NFL changed the rules and added a spot on the Pro-Bowl team for a special teams coverage player. In 1984, Bill Bates became the first NFL player to be so honored.
Bill was also 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, Bate’s 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. That play was one of the signature moments in a new era of Dallas Cowboys NFL supremacy.
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.
One of the all time great Cowboys, Bill Bates now enjoys life as a high school coach in Knoxville that won the Florida State Championship in 2005. He is also a successful motivational speaker and has released an autobiography entitled “Shoot for the Star”.