Photo Courtesy of The MS Sports Hall of Fame
Former University of Alabama football coach and Mississippi native Walter “Ray” Perkins has passed away at the age of 79.
First reported by AL.com, Perkins, who was born in Petal in 1941, died at his home in Northport, Alabama, on Wednesday morning. He had been dealing with heart issues for years.
Following an All-American college career at Alabama and five years with the Baltimore Colts, where he won a Super Bowl in 1971, Perkins enjoyed a four-decade-long career as a coach. Coaching at almost every level of the game, he is mostly remembered as being tasked as the one to succeed the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant.
During his time in Tuscaloosa (1983-1986), Perkins compiled a 32-15-1 record, including three bowl wins. After the 1986 season, he agreed to become head coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League before returning to the collegiate level in 1992.
In 1993, Perkins quickly jumped back to the NFL, where he bounced around as an assistant coach until 2000, serving stints with the New England Patriots, Oakland Raiders, and Cleveland Browns.
After an 11-year hiatus, he couldn’t resist coming back to the game that had given him so much. On December 20, 2011, he was introduced as the head football coach at Jones County Junior College, where he went 15-5 during his two seasons with the Bobcats.
His last season on the sidelines came in 2014 when he served as a volunteer coach at Oak Grove High School in Hattiesburg.
Considered a “legend” by renowned sports journalist Rick Cleveland, Perkins will be missed in not only the world of football but especially in the state of Mississippi.