Bill Stanfill, an All-American defensive tackle who played on two Georgia SEC championship teams before winning two Super Bowls in the NFL, died Thursday night. He was 69.
The Cairo, Ga., native played for the Bulldogs from 1966-68, winning the Outland Trophy as the nation’s best interior linemen his final college season when he was team captain. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1998 alongside his former college coach, Vince Dooley.
Stanfill, a self-described “country boy” who gew up on a farm, fondly remembered the 1966 team that went 10-1, won the Cotton Bowl and beat a Florida team with eventual Heisman Trophy winner Steve Spurrier at quarterback, 27-10.
“We kicked Spurrier’s ass,” Stanfill said in 2004. “I still think I’m one of the reasons why he hates us so much. I was pounding his butt whether he had the ball or not all day long. They were undefeated. We beat them and (Georgia) Tech came to Athens undefeated and we beat them too. Florida and Tech played in the Orange Bowl, which I referred to as the Lemon Bowl, because we beat both of them.”
Stanfill had been in declining health and recently fell and broke his leg. He died Thursday in Albany, according to Georgia.
“Bill was probably the greatest athlete as a lineman I ever coached,” Dooley said. “He could have been a great tight end as well. Against the triple option, he was the only player that could take the quarterback, the dive back, and the pitch man. Bill was a great person, great warrior, and a great Bulldog.”
Before being named first-team All-SEC three straight years at Georgia, Stanfill was a standout in three sports at Cairo High: all state in football, MVP of the state basketball tournament when his team won the 1965 title and a three-time state discus champion and one shot put title.
Columnist Loran Smith noted Stanfill’s Hall of Fame speech in the Athens Banner-Herald in 2009 when he harkened back to being raised in Southwest Georgia.
“By milking a cow every morning, I developed tremendous handgrip,” he said. “I could head-butt an offensive lineman, grab him under his pads, jerk him off-balance, and then make a play on the ball.
When I walked the rows of peanuts and pulled big weeds, I gained great back and leg strength, which helped me drive off the line of scrimmage and control the line. When we picked cotton, I took the 250-, 300-pound sheets of cotton after they had been weighed and threw them on a wagon. This chore was like wrapping up a running back and taking him north and not letting him take me south. … Holding pigs for my dad to castrate was quite a challenge. I can’t say that helped prepare me for football, but it sure did remind me an awful lot of sacking Steve Spurrier.”
After Georgia, Stanfill was the 11th overall pick in the NFL draft in 1969 by the Miami Dolphins. He played eight seasons and was named All-Pro four times. He was part of the undefeated 1972 Super Bowl champion team along with former Georgia teammate Jake Scott.
Stanfill amassed 67 ½ sacks with the Dolphins, but his career was cut short by injury. His post football life included working in real estate in Albany. He was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1984 and the UGA Circle of Honor in 2000.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.