Art Still Named to College Football Hall of Fame
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Art Still, whose dominance at defensive end helped lead Kentucky to some of its greatest moments in school history, has been named to the College Football Hall of Fame as announced Friday by the National Football Foundation.
The announcement was held in Dallas, Texas, at the Renaissance Hotel, in conjunction with events surrounding the upcoming national championship game. The ceremony was hosted by NFF Chairman Archie Manning and Rece Davis of ESPN.
"It's humbling to be selected because I didn't do it alone," Still said. "It's a compliment to all the guys I played with and the coaches."
Originally from Camden, N.J., Still played at Kentucky from 1974-77 under Coach Fran Curci. Still helped the Wildcats to a 19-4 record in his final two seasons. UK went 9-3 in his junior year, winning a share of the Southeastern Conference championship, and capped the season with a 21-0 blanking of North Carolina in the Peach Bowl. The Cats were ranked 18th in the final Associated Press poll.
UK posted a 10-1 mark in his senior season, finishing the campaign No. 6 in the final AP ranking. The Wildcats went 7-3 against Top-20 ranked teams his last two seasons, winning the last five in a row vs. ranked foes Florida, North Carolina, West Virginia, at Penn State and at LSU. Paced by Still's dominating performances, Kentucky led the SEC in total defense and rushing defense.
Still was a four-year starter who totaled 327 tackles during his career, an amazing figure for a defensive end. Quarterback sacks were not kept during his career and tackles for loss are available only for his senior year, when he compiled 22 TFL - a school record that "Still" stands.
One interesting fact about Still is that he also saw significant action on offense as a tight end in short-yardage or goalline situations, averaging approximately 15 plays per game and frequently helping pave the way for touchdowns or first downs. Kentucky rushed for 269.1 yards per game in 1976, the second-highest mark in school history, and rushed for 228.7 yards per game in 1977.
Still was a unanimous first-team All-America selection in 1977 as chosen by AP, United Press International, Football Writers Association of America, the American Football Coaches Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, Walter Camp Football Foundation, The Sporting News and Football News.
Still was a finalist for the Lombardi Award and the UPI National Lineman of the Year. He was the Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club of South Jersey College Player of the Year.
Still's incredible performances inspired numerous memorable quotes during his collegiate days:
"He's just a great player. He divides the field in half, and I tell my boys to run at the other half!"
-- Hall of Fame Coach Charlie McClendon of LSU; Still earned Southeast Defensive Player of the Week honors twice vs. LSU
"The person who said Art Still covered one whole side of the field was right! He looked like a mountain out there! He might be as fine a defensive end as there is in the country ... or a defensive player."
-- North Carolina Coach Bill Dooley after UK shut out the No. 19-ranked Tar Heels in the Peach Bowl
"He's a very dominant player."
-- West Virginia Coach Frank Cignetti after UK defeated the No. 17-ranked Mountaineers
"I just feel Art is probably the best defensive end in the country, better than (eventual Hall of Famer) Ross Browner of Notre Dame. Anyway, I haven't seen any end I'd take over him."
-- New York Jets assistant coach Carroll Huntress, whose thoughts were proved correct when Still was selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL Draft
"My word, you're a big one, aren't you?"
-- Prince Charles of England, when the heir to the English throne met Art at a Kentucky game
On the conference level, Still was the SEC Senior Player of the Year by the Birmingham Touchdown Club and the UPI SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He was first-team All-SEC as a junior and senior.
Even with all the team success and the individual accolades, Still's most cherished memories come from the friendships forged during his time at the University.
When asked his biggest thrill at Kentucky, Still said, "The sports side was nice but what I remember most are the relationships with my teammates and classmates. Where I came from in Camden, it was predominantly African-Americans and Puerto Ricans. (At UK) I learned how to deal with people from different environments, how to relate to people and treat people. We had players from all parts of the country and we learned to treat people the way we wanted to be treated.
"Teammates like Derrick Ramsey, Billy Williams, Mike Martin, Jerry Blanton, Dallas Owens. Coach Curci. (Strength coach) Pat Etcheberry, who set the foundation for discipline, weight training and speed. You take all those things - family, friends, teammates, coaches - and they made you a better person," said Still, who cherishes his visits to Lexington when he and his teammates have their "Curci's Cats" reunions.
Following his senior season, Still played in three national all-star games, including the East-West Shrine Game, the Hula Bowl and the Japan Bowl, where he was named the game's Outstanding Defensive Player.
After being tabbed as the second pick of the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft (only behind Earl Campbell), Still went on to a record-setting 12-year career with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Buffalo Bills. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, set Kansas City records for most sacks in a career (73) and season (14.5, twice), and was second in team history in total tackles (992).
In addition to his latest honor, Still also has been chosen for the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame, Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and Peach Bowl Hall of Fame. He was named to the UK All-Time Teams for the 100th Year of Kentucky Football as selected by the Lexington Herald-Leader and Louisville Courier-Journal. He was also picked to the Quarter-Century All-SEC Team (1961-85) by the Lakeland (Fla.) Ledger. In 2002, he was named one of the Living Legends of the SEC.
Over the years, he has participated in numerous community service activities, such as Special Olympics, being a mentor in a Big Brothers program, Sickle Cell Foundation, Dare Program, etc. He is a member of the Kansas City Chiefs Ambassadors, an association of former Chiefs players who participate in service activities.
Still and his wife, Liz, live in Liberty, Mo. They have 11 children - four of whom are adopted - and 16 grandchildren.
Additional Wildcats in the College Football Hall of Fame include tackle Bob Gain (1947-50), quarterback Vito "Babe" Parilli (1949-51), end Steve Meilinger (1951-53), Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant (1946-53), tackle Lou Michaels (1955-57) and Jerry Claiborne, who played at UK in 1946, '48-49 and was head coach of the Cats from 1982-89. Bernie Shively, who was athletic director at UK from 1938-67 and was head coach of the Cats in 1945, was inducted to the Hall of Fame in recognition of his playing days at Illinois.
Still will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on Dec. 8 in New York City during the National Football Foundation Annual Awards Dinner.