An All-American and an All-Pro stopped by the Horseshoe Bay Sports Club on the first day of December for a “tune-up” for another speaking engagement, December 6. Doug English, a defensive lineman at Texas, 1972-74, was inducted that night in New York City into the College Football Hall of Fame. This club’s speakers’ bureau’s average guest just went up a notch or two.
“The best athlete is rarely the best football player,” English told a Yacht Club audience. “That comes from good coaching; they make you successful,” he stressed in a modest manner. When I urged him to add a bit to the statement, he noted, “Everyone gets knocked down; you keep getting up. I was inspired to do this.” English, who now lives in Westlake, went to Dallas Bryan Adams High School; he had high praise for what he learned from his dad, Lowell.
Lowell’s son—who, at 58, looks like he might be ready to put a rush on Case Keenum—was a two-time All-Southwest Conference selection and became an All-American in 1974. He played a major role in the Longhorns recording a 10-1 record in ’72; they beat Alabama and Bear Bryant in the Cotton Bowl 17-13. UT was 8-3 and 8-4 the next two seasons—SWC champion in ’72 and ‘73.
“Doug probably worked as hard as any guy I ever coached,” said Spike Dykes, who was a Texas assistant in the 1970s. “He put the wow factor on you; he’s got it all; one in a million.”
“He was outstanding then and now,” observed T Jones, who was a ‘Horns’ assistant, 1956-‘62. He went on to become Texas Tech athletic director. “English was an aggressive player but under control. He deserves the honors he’s receiving.”
In 1975, he was drafted by the Detroit Lions. English, 6’5”, 255 pounds, played five years, sat out 1980 because of an injury, but came back to play ‘81-‘85. He was chosen for four Pro Bowls.
“It was tough going from Texas to the Lions, from winning as much as we did in college to mediocrity in Detroit. That didn’t set too well with me.”
“To play as well he does,” said English, in voicing his opinion on Ndamukong Suh, “you have to play with rage but between the hike and the whistle. He’s got to learn how to turn it off.” Suh is a current Lion defensive lineman whose had more trouble recently than Herman Cain. His latest post-whistle rage was stomping on Green Bay Packer Evan Dietrich-Smith on Thanksgiving Day. A two-game suspension was his penalty.
“He has to take care of a demon,” demanded English.
“Walter Payton was the toughest running back I ever faced. You could get hold of him, and his knees were hitting you in the chest all the way to the ground. Sometimes, though, he’d say to me, ‘Good tackle!’
“Offensive lineman John Hannah (of Alabama, New England, and the NFL and College Halls of Fame) was the toughest at that position. It was like taking on a freight train.”
“He had clarity of the mission: keep it simple. He let his assistants coach; he didn’t micromanage. He was not afraid to try something new to make his team better.”
After Doug English graduated, Royal coached in 1975 and ’76, his final two seasons.
“All safeties are for the defensive line; we helped each other, we set each other up.” Modesty again, and that’s something to be admired, but in the NFL Record Book, it says Doug English is credited with creating four safeties. He and Ted Hendricks are the only two players to collect that many deuces in league history. Two-for-two’s.
Doug English’s life today is devoted to family and the Lone Star Paralysis Foundation. He’s president of the organization. “We are a dedicated group of people with the necessary technology and science,” to battle spinal cord injuries. “Money is the missing ingredient.”
“There’s a ticking clock,” English admits, but when it was speculated that a cure wouldn’t happen in our lifetime, he quickly interrupted: “We will find a cure.”