28 Gene Atkins, safety Career: A 10-year veteran who played his first seven years with the New Orleans Saints before joining the Dolphins as a free agent in 1994. He was waived midseason in 1996 following a tumultuous time with the Dolphins that included getting into a shouting match with Coach Don Shula during a game and grabbing a reporter by the throat. In 1994, he started 15 games with 81 tackles and three interceptions. Salary in 1994: $1.55 million Now: Atkins has been diagnosed as suffering from significant cognitive problems caused by head injuries. At one point, he was working at a Target in Round Rock, Texas, hanging signs before the store opened. His struggles were highlighted in a 2007 HBO Real Sports segment on the lasting effects of concussions in the NFL. He had a number of run-ins with law enforcement after his football career, including going on trial and getting acquitted of hiring people to firebomb the home of a former business partner. Declared bankruptcy in 2000. Plaintiff in concussion litigation. Son Geno Atkins plays for the Cincinnati Bengals.
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