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Released in August by Lyons Press/Taylor Trade Publishing, “Bullet Bill Dudley: The Greatest 60-Minute Man in Football” chronicles the man behind the legend, as well as Dudley’s commitment to his family and community.
Steve Stinson is not only the author of Bill Dudley’s biography, but also his son-in-law, which gave him a unique perspective on such a story. In 2007, three years before Dudley passed, he asked Stinson to write his life story. Stinson found his father-in-law to be too formal in an interview setting however, realizing the best stories came in a more laid-back setting such as driving together.
After Dudley passed, it wouldn’t be until 2014 that Stinson received a book contract and picked up where he left off. He completed the book in the summer and fall of 2015 after extensive research.
Stinson’s book covers the arc of Bill Dudley’s life, using the big events of his life as stepping stones from beginning to end. Readers learn about Dudley’s high school years in Bluefield, college at the University of Virginia, the NFL years, and his World War II experiences.
The second half of the book covers Dudley’s career in Virginia politics, tenure as president of the NFL Alumni Association, and his family and business life.
Stinson’s wife ransacked her parents’ attic, discovering a trove of files. In addition, news clippings at the Virginia History Museum, as well as old books, newspapers, miscellaneous publications, and telephone interviews came together to help Stinson with his research. He also watched a lot of old game film footage.
“It is an endlessly inspiring story,” Stinson says. “By any measure, Bill was too small and too slow to play football at any level, but he ended up in two halls of fame. He made himself good at so many things on the football field that he made himself indispensable. He was, as one man I interviewed put it, ‘the most determined sonofabitch I ever saw.’ He lived in a world he made–he defined what success meant to him and didn’t care what anybody else’s definition might be.”
“Bullet Bill” Dudley’s stats are overwhelming. He was first-team All-American with the University of Virginia in 1941. He played in the NFL from 1942-1953, racking up a number of records that will most likely never be broken (such as the only “Quadruple Crown” in pro football, leading the league in rushing, punt returns, interceptions and lateral passes). NFL MVP in 1946 and defensive player of the year in ‘47, Dudley led every team he played for in scoring.
He played in the NFL for nine seasons, though World War II kept him off the field for three years. He even played on a Major League baseball exhibition team while serving in the Pacific.
Dudley didn’t slow down after leaving the NFL; he was president of the Alumni Association for 12 years; introduced the gold jacket into the NFL Hall of Fame induction ceremony; and was also a member of the Virginia legislature.
Stinson hopes Dudley’s story inspires others, especially those who have been told they can’t pursue their dreams. “Dudley was 5’10”, 175 pounds. When he arrived for his first training camp with the Steelers, the guards wouldn’t let him in. They didn’t believe he was a football player!”
“Bullet Bill Dudley: The Greatest 60-Minute Man in Football” is on sale now at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, independent bookstores, and the UVA bookstore.