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Next generation training for Bates’ three children

Bill Bates always seemed to have a nasty disposition on the football field, so it’s only fitting for him to be a little bit hacked off about the timing of his induction into the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame Thursday, Aug. 18.

If you’re like me, it’s easy to wonder why Bates had not been inducted already. After all, the former Farragut High School standout was a four-year starter at the University of Tennessee and spent 15 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys after being an undrafted free agent. If this isn’t Hall of Fame material, what is?

But William Frederick Bates is far too humble to get caught up in individual glory. At age 44, he isn’t going to change now.

There just happens to be a familiar conflict for someone who makes his home in St. Augustine, Fla., and has joined the staff at Nease High School as the coach for defensive backs and special teams. What’s the beef, Bill?

“We’ve got a football game Thursday night and it’s kind of hacking me off about coming up there,” he said before being inducted at the Hall’s 24th Annual Dinner and Induction Ceremony at the Knoxville Convention Center.

It isn’t the first time that Farragut residents Dan and Peggy Bates have offered sound parental advice.

“My mom said I’ve got to be there because so many family members and friends are going to be there,” Bill said. “She said I better not miss it.”

Enough said. By the way, the football “game” was a jamboree. Surely Bill can get an excused absence …

“There will be more games,” he said with a chuckle. “I just want to be a part of it, you know?”

The former hard hitting strong safety and special teams dynamo nicknamed “Bully” could play the proud parent in his own reality series. His 16-year-old triplets — Graham, Brianna and Hunter — are sophomores at Nease High School. Hunter is a starting safety on the varsity. Graham has played several positions and is literally itching to get back into the lineup. He broke his hand making a diving touchdown catch at the Lenoir-Rhyne passing camp a few weeks ago.

“It was a great catch, but he got up shaking his hand and now it’s in a cast,” Bill said. “We just have to make sure it heals.”

Tanner, 14, and Dillon, 10, are prone to be in the middle of things, too. Tanner is an eighth-grader and has played running back, linebacker, offensive tackle, defensive tackle and cornerback.

Athletic exploits are just part of the story, as many people are aware. The Bates children have grown up with a keen awareness of academic excellence and religious convictions.

You probably need to plug in a calculator to count the blessings that Bill and Denise Bates have. She has been the glue while he has coached everything from a youth team to the Nease High School freshmen last year.

“For me to be able to help coach has been a great experience,” said Bates, who helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls before retiring in 1995. “I spent such a long time in the NFL coaching deal (mostly with Dallas before one ill-fated season with Jacksonville in 2003). Let me tell you: A coach in the NFL does not get to know his own family very well.

“It’s the same way for a lot of college coaches because you never get to see your kid play. This has totally been a blessing for me.”

There’s already been a lot of talk about a big high school game on ESPN on Aug. 27 when Nease will play at Hoover, Ala. The game will feature two highly recruited quarterbacks.

Meanwhile, Bill Bates will continue to focus on a company he bought that manufactures air-cooled shoulder pads (log onto for more information).

A process called the Temperature Management System was invented by University of Florida researchers after Gators football player Eraste Autin died in 2001. Other deaths have occurred on several levels of football in the past decade because of heat strokes.

“The whole idea is blow cool dry air over a player’s heart,” said Bates, who credits long-time trainer Fred Williams for helping design a system for Douglas shoulder pads. “The air goes in about 130 or 140 degrees and it comes out about 40. The main thing it does is cool off and dry your perspiration.”

Bates said the pads are being used at UCLA, Clemson and Georgia Southern and he hopes that others such as Tennessee, Florida and Florida State will follow. It is expensive because a cooler that is placed near the team bench costs $7,000 and a portable air compressor can be $7,000. A bladder for the shoulder pads costs $40 and the equipment is connected by a hose.

“I know it’s hard for a lot of high schools and some college programs to come up with that kind of money,” Bates said. “But the pros should be able to handle that expense and show the benefits. Who knows whether or not it helps win games?

“At least it will help prevent something bad or maybe even worse from happening. I just wish they would’ve had something like this back when I was playing in that Texas heat and taking all of those IV’s at halftime and after games.”

Award-winning columnist and sports writer Chuck Cavalaris writes a column every other week for Farragutpress. Send questions or comments to He can also be reached at 865-769-9295.


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