NFL

The Tragic Death of Former NFL Running Back George Atkinson III Is Still an Unsolved Mystery

 George Atkinson spent a few seasons in the NFL as a running back and returner. Before that, he enjoyed a successful college career at Notre Dame, playing alongside his twin brother Josh.

George faced a tough time in his life when his brother died by suicide on Christmas in 2018. He battled depression after his brother’s death, and in 2019, George died, and his death remains unknown.

George Atkinson was multi-talented in college

Atkinson was born in Oakland, California, where he was a star athlete on his high school’s football and track team. He participated in the U.S. Army All American Bowl his senior year and served as the captain of the West team. On the track, he was one of the top sprinters in the state, competing in the 100- and 200-meter sprint.

Atkinson, going into college, had the opportunity to play with his twin brother, something many people cannot say they had the opportunity to do. At Notre Dame, Atkinson played running back and was a kickoff and punt returner. He primarily served as the backup running back during his career at Notre Dame and was the team’s leading kickoff returner. During his freshman season, he had a total of 915 yards with two touchdowns as a returner. As a sophomore, he was a member of the Notre Dame team that went 12-1 and played in the national championship game. His junior year was his best season as he was third on the team, rushing with 555 yards on 93 carriers.

Atkinson also was a member of the track and field team at Notre Dame. He competed in the 60 meters and the 100 meters. Running track is a good way for football players to stay in shape during the offseason, and Atkinson made sure to take advantage of that. After three years at Notre Dame, Atkinson decided to forego his final year and enter the NFL draft.

George Atkinson fulfilled his dream of playing in the NFL

Atkinson did not hear his name called in the 2014 NFL draft, but he did sign with the Oakland Raiders as an undrafted free agent. He appeared in five games as a rookie, mostly on special teams, and averaged 18.1 yards on seven kickoff returns. After his time with the Raiders, he joined the Cleveland Browns and spent one season with them. He played in all 16 games on special teams, and he also made his running back debut with the Browns in the season finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. During that game, he rushed for 34 yards and scored his first career rushing touchdown.

The Browns was the last team that Atkinson played for during the regular season. Throughout the rest of his career, he was picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs and the New York Jets, but he never made the official roster. 2018 was the last time he played football.

George Atkinson lost his twin brother before he passed away

Looking back at 2018, that was not a good year for Atkinson. He was waived from the Jets in August, and then he loses his twin brother to suicide on Christmas. Atkinson was not in the right place mentally as he suffered from depression. There was a point where he was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital after trying to hurt himself, dealing with the loss of his brother.

Just a year after his brother died, Atkinson was found dead in December of 2019. There still has been no final cause of his death. When Atkinson died, he left behind a two-year-old daughter who now has to grow up without her biological father. One could only imagine the pain that Atkinson’s family has been going through as he and his brother have passed away.