Dottley likes Deuce, but cheers for Bears|[01/16/07]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ole Miss legend Kayo Dottley wouldn’t mind seeing fellow Rebel alumnus Deuce McAllister have another good game Sunday in the NFC Championship game for the New Orleans Saints, but the team he’s pulling for will be the Chicago Bears.

The long-time Vicksburg resident and former All-America running back for Ole Miss, played three full seasons for Chicago and is a member of the Bears Hall of Fame.

&#8220I admire what the Saints have done this season, but I want the Bears to win the game,” Dottley said.

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Spending a rainy afternoon with Dottley is to go back in time to the &#8220Golden Age” of the National Football League. Dottley played for George S. Halas, considered the father of the NFL having been one of the original team owners.

Dottley’s love for the Bears started before he even heard of Ole Miss.

&#8220When I was a kid in McGehee, Arkansas, every Sunday I’d go into town to watch the show and they would always run a highlight reel of the Chicago Bears,” Dottley said. &#8220It got so where I would hang around after the show ended, just so I could see the Bears highlights again. There was a mystique about the Bears and coach Halas. I was lucky to have been able to play for two legends, George Halas and Johnny Vaught.”

Dottley was a highly recruited fullback coming out of high school but he didn’t want to play for his native University of Arkansas.

&#8220It was too hard to get there from McGehee. We’d try to go to the games, but it would take so long, we usually never made it by kickoff,” he said.

Vaught sold him on the attributes of coming to Ole Miss. In 1949, Dottley led the nation in rushing with 1,312 yards. It was one of two records he still holds at Ole Miss. McAllister has most of the others.

&#8220Deuce is so good, he’s broken most of my records. But I still have one that I’m pretty proud of – I’m still the last back from the SEC to lead the nation in rushing,” Dottley said.

Dottley, a 6-foot, 190-pounder, was made for the T-formation which came into favor in the late 1940s.

&#8220At Ole Miss, the fullback was the spot. In the old T-formation, if you want to run to the right side, you would have the right halfback as your lead blocker. And then if you ran to the left, you’d have the left halfback as the lead blocker. That’s why the fullback got most of the carries.”

He carried the ball 208 times during his All-America season in 1949. He came back in 1950 and ran for 1,007 yards off 191 carries.

Halas liked him so much that he selected him as the 24th overall pick in the 1951 draft. He had an immediate impact.

&#8220I led the Bears in rushing and I became the first rookie back to be selected to the Pro Bowl,” said Dottley who rushed for 670 yards and three touchdowns in that 1951 season.

Dottley owed his success to knowing down and distance.

&#8220My quarterback with the Bears was Johnny Lujack and he’d come into the huddle and tell me, ‘We need eight yards.’ And I go try my best to get those eight yards. Every time I got the ball, I knew to the inch how far I needed to get that first down,” Dottley said.

That first season was also Dottley’s best and only chance at earning an NFL title.

&#8220Had Lujack not gotten hurt, we would have won it all. We were 6-1 and we had just gone out to California and beaten the (San Francisco) 49ers twice and the (Los Angeles) Rams. Then Lujack gets hurt and that just killed us. We couldn’t throw the ball.”

That was bad news considering how good the quarterbacks were in the NFL at that time. Dottley rattles off the names.

&#8220Van Brocklin and Waterford with the Rams, Conerly with the Giants, Y.A. Tittle with the 49ers, Bobby Thompson with the Eagles, Bobby Layne with the Lions and Otto Graham with the Browns,” Dottley recalls.

&#8220We had Bobby Layne with us and then Halas traded him and he goes to Detroit and makes something out of nothing. But I couldn’t say much, because Halas was the one who played me,” he said.

Back then, Dottley said the Bears only dressed 31 players for their games.

&#8220Teams were scared to death of us but we only dressed 31. Because of the numbers, I had to play on the kickoff teams, field goal teams and I also had to play goal line on defense,” Dottley said.

Dottley’s career came to a premature end in 1954 after he was hit by a car.

&#8220It tore my leg up and it destroyed my career. But I was able to play in one game in 1954 so I was able to make a pension having been in the league for four years.”

His ties to the Bears have remained strong over the past 50 years.

&#8220Every year, the Bears have a homecoming weekend and every guy who ever wore a Bears uniform is invited back. It’s a magnificent event. I’ve only missed it twice. I didn’t go this past year because of an illness in our family. I went two years ago. We beat Green Bay – it was freezing cold,” Dottley said.

&#8220But I tell ya, they have about 400 guys coming now. They usually do it in October. They bring buses by the hotel and carry us to an afternoon get together the Saturday before the game. Then we have a big banquet that night. One of these last times, they gave me a pin for going to the Pro Bowl. Then on Sunday, they pick us back up to go to Soldier Field and they put us in box seats.”