Former Tennessee football player, radio announcer Bill Anderson dies


KNOXVILLE (WATE) – One of the great voices of Tennessee football has died.

Walter William “Bill” Anderson died Tuesday morning in Knoxville, according to Rose Mortuary. He was 80.

Anderson, and his broadcast partner John Ward, spent a good portion of his adult life spreading the word on Vol football. They both retired together in 1998 after 31 years in the booth over Neyland. At the time, it was the longest running broadcast partnership in college football.

“It is indeed a sad day for the University of Tennessee and the Vol Network with the passing of Bill Anderson,” UTAD Director of Broadcasting Bob Kesling said. “For three decades, Bill and John Ward painted the picture on the radio for many of the greatest moments in Tennessee football history. Bill’s great knowledge and understanding of the game and his passion for Tennessee football added so much to each broadcast.

In the 1950s, Anderson was a Vols captain and wingback before spending eight seasons in the NFL. Anderson totaled 178 receptions, 3,048 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns during his NFL playing career. He was also part of the Green Bay Packers first Super Bowl I title team.

“While in college at Tennessee, I got the great opportunity to work on the Vol Network,” said Kesling. “For 15 seasons I spotted for John Ward during the broadcasts. Sitting in the booth each Saturday I got to hear Bill talk about his playing days at Tennessee with Johnny Majors and Buddy Cruze. He told stories of his days in the NFL with the Washington Redskins, trying to block former Tennessee great and NFL Hall of Famer Doug Atkins and playing in the first Super Bowl game with the Green Bay Packers for coach Vince Lombardi.”

Doug Dickey hired Anderson on his first Vols coaching staff in 1964. Anderson teamed up with Ward in 1968.

“Bill enjoyed life, loved his family and took great pride in the fact he got to wear the orange shirt at Tennessee. It is a tremendous loss,” said Kesling.

An avid golfer, Anderson was a member of both the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame and the Knoxville Sports Hall of Fame. In 2013, he was recognized along with his former Green Bay teammates at Lambeau Field in a reunion of the 1965-67 NFL championship teams.

“The Vol Network and University of Tennessee fans have lost a family member and a giant of a man today in the passing of Bill Anderson,” IMG/Vol Network General Manager Steve Early said. “Bill was a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word. So many of us grew up hanging on his breakdown of what happened, and many times what was about to happen. He will be forever missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his wonderful family.”

Rose Mortuary said funeral arrangements for Anderson are being finalized.

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