A “Hitters” Success

Bill Stanfill was a winner for UGA and the Miami Dolphins

Talk about a glutton for punishment: Consider the case of William Thomas Stanfill, one of the greatest linemen ever for both the University of Georgia and the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins.

While playing with the Dolphins, in 1975, Stanfill sustained a severe neck injury; the next year he strained his neck severely. Later came serious lower back injuries.

Still, Bill Stanfill wanted to play professional football. When the Dolphins’ team physician turned him down, he went to six specialists hoping to get an “OK to play.”

Stanfill was a hitter, and he wanted to hit. But all the specialists agreed if Stanfill’s neck absorbed one more blow it would not only be the end of a pro football career, it would be the end of Bill Stanfill.

Here’s a man who had 60 basketball scholarship offers from Florida to California and six track scholarship offers. Yet if he had to make the choice all over again, he would still pick football. “In a minute,” he says, despite the surgeries his injuries have required since his playing days ended: two hip replacements and three disc fusions.

“I liked to hit people,” Stanfill says. “I never talked trash to anyone, but when I would line up against my foe I would say to myself ‘I am going to whip his a–.’”

And whip it he did, for three years at the University of Georgia (’66-’68) and eight years (’69-’76) with the Dolphins.

You name the accolades and Stanfill has won them. At Georgia, the 6’ 5”, 245-pounder was a three-time All-American defensive tackle, winner of the Outland Trophy, presented to the nation’s most outstanding college lineman; Southeastern Conference Lineman of The Year; All-SEC in each of his three varsity seasons (freshman were ineligible); Academic All-SEC and Academic All-American.

Stanfill was elected captain of the team in his senior season, and won the William K. Jenkins Award as Georgia’s Most Valuable Player and the J.B. Whitworth Award as Georgia’s outstanding lineman. He was named to the 25-year All-SEC team (1961-1985) and the Quarter Century All-SEC team (1950-1974).

But you ain’t read nothin’ yet. With the Dolphins, he was NFL All-Pro four times (1971-’74). He was the leading tackler on the ’72 and ’73 Super Bowl championship teams. He still holds Dolphins’ records for sacks in a career (67.5) and sacks in a season (18.5).

Stanfill grew up in Cairo, Ga., and was a three-sport star at Cairo High School. In football he was state Class AA Lineman of The Year (1964). He was Most Valuable Player in the 1965 State Class AA basketball tournament, won three state AA discus titles and one state AA shot-put title.

Today, Stanfill lives in Albany, where he is part-owner of the Dozier-Stanfill Real Estate Co. He’s seldom in his office, spending most of his time out showing property, mainly farms, timberland and plantations. He covers a 100-mile radius and still finds time to hunt, fish and milk cows. He also owns a 110-unit motel.

Stanfill credits his athletic and business success to his coaches, going back to high school, where he played for West Thomas and Tommy Taylor and then, in college, Vince Dooley and Erk Russell and, finally, the Dolphins’ Don Shula and Bill Arnsparger.

Says Coach Dooley, “He is one of the greatest, if not the greatest to play the game.”

Besides his coaches, Bill credits his mother, the late Muriel Stanfill, for his success. “She made it clear to me that I would stay on the straight and narrow path and do my best at all times or else I would get my butt whipped.”

Stanfill is married to the former Gail Dozier. He has two sons, Stan and Jake, from a former marriage. Bill and Gail have two children, Kristin, 27 and Scott, 25.

If you drive through Cairo on Highway 84, you will be driving on the Bill Stanfill Highway, so designated by the Georgia General Assembly.

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