Tennessee football: 15 Vols who were better in the NFL

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Tennessee Volunteers
Tennessee Volunteers. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

He is famous on Rocky Top for being the color commentator alongside John Ward, the Voice of the Vols, for decades. But before that, Bill Anderson represented Tennessee football for nearly a decade in the NFL and was highly accomplished during that time.

Similar to John Gordy, Anderson flew under the radar on that 1956 SEC Championship team because of guys like Johnny Majors, Buddy Cruze and Bill Johnson. Playing from 1955 to 1957, he achieved no All-American honors.

Anderson then fell to the third round of the NFL Draft and was picked up by the Washington Redskins. There, he emerged as one of the elite tight ends in the pros and helped become one of the first people to define that position as a receiver.

In six years with Washington, Anderson had seasons with 396, 734, 488, 637, 386 and 288 receiving yards. He also had 14 touchdowns during those seasons. His most productive year was 1959 when he had those 734 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

As a result, Anderson made back to back Pro Bowls in 1959 and 1960, proving himself to be an elite receiving end. On the back-end of his career, he became more of an unheralded end, but he still racked up some accomplishments.

After retiring in 1964 to join the Vols’ coaching staff, Anderson returned in 1965 and joined the Green Bay Packers. All he did was win back to back NFL Championships in 1965 and 1966 with them and win the first official Super Bowl in 1966. So he is a champion, a Pro Bowler and a stat machine at tight end. His pro production far outstretched his college success.