George Atkinson had a successful football career. He played in the AFL and the NFL and played at a high-level, establishing himself as one of the best in the game.
George Atkinson was one of the toughest players in the NFL
Atkinson spent the majority of his career playing for the Raiders. The Raiders selected him in the seventh round of the 1968 draft. Atkinson got off to a hot start to his career. He was named an AFL All-Star in 1968 and 1969. Atkinson was a return man and played the cornerback and safety position. In his first season as return man for the Raiders, he finished with 36 returns for 490 yards and two touchdowns. On defense, he appeared in 14 games starting in six and had four interceptions.
The 1969 season was another successful one for Atkinson as he made his second AFL All-Star team and was named Second-team All-AFL. He would continue to serve as a key player for the Raiders throughout his career. Atkinson spent his first 10 seasons playing for the Raiders and became a fan favorite. On defense, he was a physical presence at the safety position, and when he made contact with opponents, they felt it.
During the 1976 season, he was a part of a Raiders team that was one of the best in the NFL. That season the Raiders made it to the Super Bowl and faced off against the Minnesota Vikings. The Raiders defeated the Vikings 32-14 to give them their first Super Bowl in franchise history. After a long career in Oakland, Atkinson ended his football career, playing a season for the Denver Broncos.
George Atkinson’s twin sons wanted to get into football like their father
Growing up, Atkinson’s twin boys, George III and Josh did not know their father played in the NFL at first. But they did take a liking to the sport. When the two found out that their father played in the NFL, they wanted to pick his brain and learn everything they could from him. Atkinson started his sons off young training them and teaching them the fundamentals of the game.
His sons would go on to have success in high school and play in college. They both had the opportunity to play at Notre Dame, one of the top football schools in the country. Josh played on defense as a defensive back and George III played on offense as a big play kick returner and running back. George III went on to play in the NFL for a few seasons, but his brother did not get the opportunity to do so.
George Atkinson dealt with three losses in two years
In 2018, Atkinson had to deal with the loss of his twin sons’ mother and Josh. The mother died due to complications from Crohn’s disease. When the twins were younger, their mother had paranoid schizophrenia and drug addiction, and she was institutionalized.
Just two months after their mother died, Josh died by suicide. George III quickly suffered from depression when he found out his twin brother died. Just like that, Atkinson had lost the mother of his twin sons and a son in two months. In 2019 George III dealt with mental health struggles, and three days after his 27th birthday, he died from unknown causes. For a parent to have their children die is something they never want to experience. It was a tough two years for Atkinson, and it’s something he’s still learning to deal with to this day.