ATLANTA — Atlanta radio personality Chris Dimino stood on a podium in a room on the third floor of the College Football Hall of Fame and looked out over the crowd.
“By best guestimates, 5.1 million college football players have taken part in a football game since Rutgers-Princeton in 1869. I just want you to think about that. This class will bring the total number of players to 963 and the coaches … to right around 200. I’m not very good with math, but I think we’re dealing with the 1 percent of the 1 percent of the 1 percent that are going to be enshrined.”
Dimino was close. The Hall of Fame actually represents closer to one one-hundredth of a percent of all college football players. And as of Wednesday, Kentucky all-time great Art Still is officially one of them.
Still, in a white polo with a UK logo over the chest and stretching a full head above everyone in the room, stood out in the crowd, much like he’s done all his career.
Still played at Kentucky from 1974-77 under coach Fran Curci and was part of the Wildcats’ historic 10-1 season as a senior. The defensive end accumulated 327 tackles in his career. Sacks were not recorded during his four years in college and tackles for a loss weren’t kept track of until his senior season, when he collected 22 — still a school record.
Still was taken by the Kansas City Chiefs with the second overall pick in the 1978 NFL Draft behind Earl Campbell, and while his professional career was impressive on its own, collegiate ball is where Still truly made his mark. So being enshrined in the Hall of Fame was an unbelievable honor for him.
“It’s an experience you never think about,” he said. “You hear about the statistics then you’re surrounded by a bunch of fellas in the class you admire — young and old — it’s truly an honor. I can only take part of that credit. My team, parents, teammates, coaches, those around me from the positive side are the contributing factor.”
It’s been some time since Still has played for that team, but he remains somewhat involved with the program. He said he makes it to one or two games a year, even though he’s living in Kansas City.
“When Kentucky is playing, I’m all for Kentucky. Especially when they’re playing the Jayhawks, KU. My wife’s family is all out in Kansas. That’s when I really rub it in. I tell them, that’s the manly blue,” Still said, pointing to his Kentucky polo.
As far as how the Wildcats have played as of late (Kentucky hasn’t had a winning season since 2009) Still isn’t concerned.
“They’re (headed) in the right direction,” he said. “They’ve got a good coach in coach (Mark) Stoops and they’ve got some players and all too. But you know in the Southeastern Conference, you’ve got to be on the top of your game. You can’t just slack a little bit at all. You’ve got great teams, great players, great coaches, that’s a very competitive conference, but they’re in the right direction.”
Still is right about the talent level. This year, the SEC could have 10 players taken in the first round of the NFL draft. And while he graduated for Kentucky before heading to the draft, more and more players are leaving college early for the NFL, a decision Still has nothing against.
“It’s a business world,” Still said. “A lot of people use what talent they’ve got to take that next step. But to me, it’s almost taking advantage of the academic side too, because you never know in this game, college or pros. You can be out fast as far as injuries go. But that’s an individual judgment call.”
Still’s judgment told him to finish his senior year in Lexington before heading to the NFL. Wednesday in Atlanta, a plaque with his name on it likely reassured the Kentucky alum that he had made the right decision.