American Football Database
Bill Atessis
No. 77     
Defensive end
Personal information
Date of birth: (1949-07-16) July 16, 1949 (age 73)
Place of birth: Houston, Texas
Career information
College: Texas
NFL Draft: 1971 / Round: 2 / Pick: 52
No regular season or postseason appearances
Career history
*New England Patriots ( 1971)
Career highlights and awards
*College All-American (1970)

William James Atessis (born July 16, 1949) is a former American football player who played on two NCAA national championship teams at the University of Texas. One of the most honored and productive defensive ends in NCAA history, he was a three-year starter and was second-team All-America as a junior who was a consensus All-American as a senior. He currently resides in Houston, Texas.

High school career

Atessis attended Jesse Jones High School, in Houston. He graduated in 1967. He was a Texas All-State tackle in 1966.[1] Atessis was the state's number one lineman in the recruiting class of 1967.[2] He was an all-around athlete who excelled in football, baseball, and basketball. He was inducted to the Texas High School Sports Hall of Fame in 1995. In 1996 was named as one of the best lineman in the history of Texas high school football, ranking second on the Houston Chronicle list.

College career

Atessis was a member of teams which set a school record 30-game winning streak that currently stands as the twelfth-longest in NCAA history and was a three-year letterman and three-year starter at left defensive end.[3] Including two years as a starter on the back-to-back National Champion Texas Longhorns teams of 1969 and 1970.[4] Was voted Longhorn Defensive MVP by the Dallas Morning News and Houston Post both in 1969 and 1970.[5]

The Longhorns also won three consecutive Southwest Conference championships and appeared in three consecutive Cotton Bowl Classic games, winning two[6] during that time. Was a consensus 1st Team All-American in 1970 and was second team All-American in 1969. in 1970 he was voted Southwest Conference Co-Lineman of the Year (with Arkansas All-American Defensive end, Dick Bumpas). Consensus All-SWC choice in 1969 and 1970.[7] Also was a finalist for Outland Trophy and finished fifth in the voting for the UPI Lineman of the Year, both in 1970.

Played in the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama, in January 1971. Is a member, University of Texas Men's Athletics Hall of Honor, being voted in during 2001.[5] Texas Coach Darrell Royal called him a, "Super player, who hasn't played a bad game in three years."[8] Played in the Coaches' All-America Game in Lubbock, Texas, June 28, 1971. Singled out for his "tremendous game" by the Odessa American as worthy of the player of the game award.[9]

Played in what has been called "The Game of the Century" between #1 Texas and #2 Arkansas on December 6, 1970, with the Longhorns winning 15-14.[4] In 2005 was named to the All-Time University of Texas team by the Austin American-Statesman and was named to the Red River Rivalry All-time team by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, also in 2005. In 2006, he was named number 16 on a list of the 50 best names in Texas Longhorn history.[1]


He was highly regarded after a stellar collegiate career. Was drafted by the NFL Champion Baltimore Colts. He was injured in training camp and released in mid-season. Played defensive end for the Patriots in 1971. Asked to drop weight and move to outside linebacker, a position he had never played. Left camp in July 1972, and was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Was moved to offensive line there and asked to gain back the weight he lost to play linebacker. Was injured again and released by Cards. Signed as a defensive tackle by the Jets for the 1973 season yet was cut in training camp.

Time line

  • Second-round draft choice by NFL Baltimore Colts (52nd overall pick) on January 28, 1971
  • Added to the injured waived list by the Colts on September 9, 1971.[10]
  • Placed on injured reserve by the Colts on September 16, 1971.
  • Released by the Colts on October 4, 1971.[11]
  • Signed by the New England Patriots, November 15, 1971, and assigned to the taxi squad.
  • Signed to the active roster November 20, 1971, and played 5 games with the New England Patriots, 1971
  • Switched to linebacker by Patriots, lost weight to 240 pounds
  • Voluntarity left New England Patriots camp, July 16, 1972[12]
  • Acquired by the St. Louis Cardinals on July 19, 1972, for a future draft choice[13]
  • Switched to offensive guard, asked to get weight back to 255
  • Placed on injured reserve by the Cardinals on August 8, 1972
  • Cut by the Cardinals, September 13, 1972[14]
  • Signed by the New York Jets on May 10, 1973, moved to defensive tackle[15]
  • Released by the Jets on August 7, 1973[16]


  • Wore uniform number 77 while at Texas
  • Along with two other Texas All-Americans, Bobby Wuench and Steve Worster, criticized Notre Dame players of being "poor sports" in a 21–17 loss to the Longhorns in the 1970 Cotton Bowl Classic.[17]
  • Was in the real estate business in Santa Cruz, California, in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
  • Featured in 2005 book Texas Longhorns: Where Have You Gone? by Whit Canning, published in 2005. ISBN 1582619522


  1. 1.0 1.1
  3. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-26.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "". Archived from the original on October 10, 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 26, 2007.
  7. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-26.
  8. "Sport: TIME'S All-America Team: Prime Prospects For the Pros". December 28, 1970.,9171,944277-3,00.html.
  9. "Odessa American Newspaper Archives, Jun 29, 1971, p. 10- NewspaperArchive®".
  10. "NewspaperArchive® - Genealogy & Family History Records".
  11. "Daily Kennebec Journal Newspaper Archives, Nov 16, 1971, p. 11- NewspaperArchive®".
  12. "NewspaperArchive® - Genealogy & Family History Records".
  13. "NewspaperArchive® - Genealogy & Family History Records".
  14. "NewspaperArchive® - Genealogy & Family History Records".
  15. "Elyria Chronicle Telegram Newspaper Archives, May 11, 1973, p. 32- NewspaperArchive®".
  16. "Charleston Gazette Newspaper Archives, Aug 8, 1973, p. 19- NewspaperArchive®".
  17. "Oakland Tribune Newspaper Archives, Jan 5, 1970, p. 36- NewspaperArchive®".