It is one of life’s great pleasures to know that no matter what else he has already accomplished and whatever else he may do in life, Bill Bates’ name will be forever linked with one glorious moment in Knoxville in 1980.
… That’s right, Bulldogs fans. You know it, too. It’s Herschel Walker coming at Bates, then through him, plowing his way to the end zone for a University of Georgia touchdown.
The occasion was the Sept. 6, 1980 season opener that became the coming-out party for Georgia freshman running back Walker, a future Heisman Trophy winner (1982), All-American and College Football Hall of Famer.
Bates, then a sophomore who would become a two-time All-Southeastern Conference safety at Tennessee, braced to make an open-field tackle of big No. 34 but was planted on the back of his No. 40 orange jersey.
The play took only a few seconds but has been replayed countless times, thanks in recent years with the aid of Web sites such as YouTube. An Internet search Friday for “Bill Bates” and “Herschel Walker” found 163,000 files.
That might equal the number of times Bates has been asked about a play that happened almost 29 years ago.
“Let’s talk about that game,” Bates volunteers. “Sure, Herschel did well, ran me over, whatever, scored a touchdown…”
Dude, take your immortality where you can get it.