In recent weeks we've brought you a couple of quarterbacks who just didn't pan out in the NFL and a big-time linebacker who had his career cut short by injury. Today, with all the Arkansas bad news swirling around, we figured we'd go in the opposite direction. We've got a true Hogs success story both on and off the field: safety Steve Atwater.
The safety position in today's football has become one that folks recognize instantly. They hit hard, they turn the field around with interceptions and guys like Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu have made it "cool" to be a safety. Everyone hearkens back to Ronnie Lott and Rod Woodson when they talk about the all-time greats. One guy who doesn't get his due is former Arkansas Razorback and Denver Bronco great Steve Atwater.
In the college game Atwater was a monster. He was a three-time All-SWC safety for the Hogs and a two-time All-American at the position. His 14 interceptions still stands as the school record in Fayetteville. Basically, Atwater truly balled at the college level in the now-defunct Southwestern Conference.
After being drafted in the first round, most football fans know the rest of the story. Atwater was a standout safety for the Broncos who delivered punishing hits en route to eight Pro Bowl selections. Towards the end of his career, Atwater, like John Elway, got his two rings; and after one year with the Jets in 1999 he walked away from the game.
However, the post-football life has been good to Steve Atwater. Living in the Atlanta area he's got his hands in real estate, the stock market and he has four kids. The eldest, Stephen, is currently playing defensive back at Georgetown. His second son, DiAndre, is headed to Princeton in the fall to play some Ivy League football. Daughters Paris and Malaysia are still in school.
Overall, Steve Atwater would most certainly qualify as a Razorback success story. The big-time safety is in the Broncos' Ring of Fame and had solid careers at both the NFL and collegiate levels. He's now staying busy with his kids and his business interests. That's a win.
One thing that could make things sweeter? Steve Atwater getting that nod for the Hall of Fame.