Top 10 Falcons of all time
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Top 10 -- Tommy Nobis
Many Falcons fans think the best Falcon was the first -- 1966 No. 1 draft choice Tommy Nobis. He was easily the best player on the first team and the NFL Rookie of the Year.
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Tommy Nobis was a star on both offense and defense at the University of Texas, back when players could play both ways. He was twice an all-American.
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Shown here tackling Browns quarterback Frank Ryan, Nobis amassed an unprecedented 294 combined tackles his first season, not only Atlanta's all-time single-season record, but unofficially the most tackles ever credited to one player, in a season, in NFL history.
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Tommy Nobis -- Illustration by Clyde Wells of The Chronicle.
In 11 seasons Nobis led Atlanta in tackles nine times, went to five Pro Bowls, was named All-Pro twice and was chosen for the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1960s.
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By 1973 the famous Nobis crewcut had given way to longer hair, as shown in this photo with fellow players (from left) John Small, of Augusta, Nobis, and George Kunz and an unidentified man.
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Nobis grins at James Bold (left) as he and fellow linebacker Greg Brezina sign autographs in 1973.
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Quarterback Steve Bartkowski, of the University of California, was chosen with the first overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft, ahead of Walter Payton.
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Bartkowski was NFL Rookie of the Year in 1975. He is one of only nine quarterbacks in NFL history who have achieved consecutive 30-touchdown passing seasons (1980 & 1981) at least one time in their career.
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Bartkowski led the NFL in passing in 1983 with a passer rating of 97.6.
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He remains the team's all-time passing leader with 23,470 yards and 154 touchdown passes..
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In 1981 William Andrews (31) led the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,036. He went over 1,300 yards rushing and scored a career-high 12 touchdowns. A knee injury in 1984 effectively diminished his career.
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In 1983, Andrews had his best season. He was second in the NFL in rushing with 1,567 yards, second in rushing yards per game with an average of 97.9 and caught for 59 passes for 609 yards. His also finished second in yards from scrimmage with a total of 2,176. He was named All-Pro.
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Defensive end Claude Humphrey was an All-American from Tennessee State University when he was drafted in the first round of the 1968 NFL Draft with the third overall choice.
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Humphrey, shown here in 1973 tackling OJ Simpson and forcing a fumble, was named First-team All-Pro five times (1971-'74, and 1977), Second- Team All-Pro three times (1969, 1970, 1976), and All-NFC six times (1970-'74, 1977).
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An outstanding pass rusher, Humphrey was named to the Pro Bowl six times over the span of his career (1970-'74 & 1977).
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Humphrey is a member of the Georgia Hall of Fame and the Tennessee Hall of Fame. His college retired his number and inducted him into their Hall of Fame. His high school has also retired his jersey and he is a member of his high school Hall of Fame.
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Offensive tackle Mike Kenn holds the Falcons franchise record for games started and games played (251). He played his entire 17-year NFL career with the Falcons from 1978 to 1994. holds Falcons records in most games played and started (251) while ranking second in most seasons played with Atlanta (17). He earned Pro Bowl selections from 1980-84.
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Jessie Tuggle appeared in the Pro Bowl five times, and played in Super Bowl XXXIII. In his 14 seasons, he recorded 1,640 tackles (164 assisted), 21 sacks, 6 interceptions, which he returned for 106 yards and a touchdown, 10 forced fumbles and 37 pass deflections.
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Nicknamed "The Hammer" because of his hits, Tuggle recovered 10 fumbles, returning them for 155 yards and an NFL record 5 touchdowns.
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Jeff Van Note
A college running back and defensive end, Jeff Van Note was moved to center by Falcons head coach Norm Van Brocklin. He soon established himself as one of the finest centers in the NFL, making six Pro Bowls.
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Jeff Van Note
Van Note (No. 57) throws a crushing block against the New Orleans Saints in 1980 opening a hole for William Andrews (No. 31). Van Note's 18-year tenure with the Falcons is one of the 25 longest in NFL history. He played in 246 games over this stretch.
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Running back Gerald Riggs, the Falcons all-time rushing leader, was one of the brightest stars on some of its most woeful teams of the 1980s. Riggs made the Pro Bowl three times in his career from 1985 to 1987.
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Riggs' best season was in 1985, when he rushed for 1,719 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also catching 33 passes for 267 yards. In the three seasons from 1984–1986, Riggs amassed a whopping 5,212 combined rushing and receiving yards, and scored 32 touchdowns.
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In his seven years with the Falcons,Gerald Riggs rushed for 6,631 yards, making him the franchise all-time leading rusher.
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Deion Sanders is considered one of the most versatile athletes in sporting history -- playing both NFL football and major league baseballl at the same time. He is the only member of the NFL Hall of Fame who spent most of his career with the Atlanta Falcons.
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Sanders is consoled by San Francisco's Daniel Stubbs after a Nov. 13, 1989 game, which the Falcons lost to the 49ers 45-3.
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Sanders returned his first Falcons career punt return for a touchdown. During his time in Atlanta, he intercepted 24 passes (including a career high 7 in 1993), three of which he returned for touchdowns. In 1992, he also led the league in kickoff return yards (1,067), yards per return (26.7) and return touchdowns (2).
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Morten Andersen remains the Falcons all-time scoring leader with 806 points. His clutch field goal in the final moments of the 1999 NFC title game gave the Falcons a 30-27 victory over favored Minnesota and sent Atlanta to the Super Bowl for the only time.
We offer this list of the top 10 Atlanta Falcons of all time. It includes the eight players who are members of the team's Ring of Honor. It also adds both the team's all-time scorer and its all-time rusher.