Bill Anderson, co-captain of Tennessee’s 1957 football team, who later played for the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl I and was the longtime football color analyst with John Ward on Vol Radio Network broadcasts for three decades, passed away on April 18, 2017.
Phil Kaplan/News Sentinel
Bill Anderson, who was John Ward’s broadcast partner on the Vol Radio Network from 1968-98 and co-captain of the 1957 Tennessee football team, died Tuesday in Knoxville. He was 80.
Mr. Anderson was born July 16, 1936, in Hendersonville, N.C.
“For three decades, Bill and John Ward painted the picture on the radio for many of the greatest moments in Tennessee football history,” Tennessee director of athletic broadcasting Bob Kesling told UTSports.com. “Bill’s great knowledge and understanding of the game and his passion for Tennessee football added so much to each broadcast.
“While in college at Tennessee, I got the great opportunity to work on the Vol Network. For 15 seasons I spotted for John Ward during the broadcasts. Sitting in the booth each Saturday, I got to hear Bill talk about his playing days at Tennessee with Johnny Majors and Buddy Cruze. He told stories of his days in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, trying to block former Tennessee great and NFL Hall of Famer Doug Atkins, and playing in the first Super Bowl game with the Green Bay Packers for coach Vince Lombardi.”
Mr. Anderson came to Tennessee from Bradenton, Fla., and was a starter at wingback in 1956 and 1957 under coach Bowden Wyatt, playing at 6-foot-2, 190 pounds. He was a part of those long-ago days on campus when Saturday afternoons at a much-smaller Shields-Watkins Field were always something special. The 1956 team is considered one of Tennessee’s finest, finishing No. 2 in the nation.
Mr. Anderson wore No. 15 and was described in Tennessee game programs as a “tremendous receiver and reverse runner.” He joined Bill Johnson as a co-captain of the 1957 squad. He played in the 1958 Senior Bowl.
But he remembered very little about his role in a 21-6 win over Georgia Tech that season.
“I caught a pass from Gordon for a first down at the Tech four to set up our first touchdown,” he said after the game, as reported in “The Big Orange: A Story of Tennessee Football,” by Russ Bebb. “I had been bothered by a pinched nerve in my neck for some time, and I was almost out cold. They told me I kept right on playing and later scored on a 45-yard reverse, but I don’t remember it. I was taking a shower after the game when I finally regained my senses. I even had to ask the score.”
Mr. Anderson was a third-round selection by the Washington Redskins in 1958. He played for the Redskins from 1958-63 and for the Green Bay Packers from 1965-66. He played in Super Bowl I and in the 1960 and 1961 Pro Bowls. Anderson totaled 178 receptions, 3,048 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns during his NFL playing career.
He was part of Doug Dickey’s first Tennessee staff in 1964, coaching offensive ends.
He was a 1991 inductee to the Greater Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame and in 1994 to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
He and Ward started on the Vol Network on Sept. 14, 1968, when the Vols squared off against the Georgia Bulldogs at Neyland Stadium. It was the first game played on Tartan Turf, and the Vols scored eight points after the final horn to steal a 17-17 deadlock.
With few exceptions, they were together until Jan. 4, 1999, when Tennessee defeated Florida State for the national championship 23-16 in the Fiesta Bowl at Tempe, Ariz.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.