I’ve been a fan of the NFL for more years than I haven’t. The 2010 season will be the 24th season I have real, actual memories of watching football. It dates back to my first memories of the 1987 season that concluded with the Redskins dismantling the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII.
This will be the 10th year I’ve written about sports, in some capacity or another. I say all that to say, I am a relatively new Falcons fan. In the past I’ve followed the Falcons as I would any other team in the league but recently I have come to define the term fanatic.
In March I started writing for a tremendous fantasy football site and was assigned the Atlanta Falcons beat. The following month I took over this blog. During that time I have spent every waking hour learning the history of this franchise – the struggles, the triumphs and all the in-betweens.
Now that I am a full-blown, red-and-black, dirty bird dancing fool, I wanted to pay respects to the players who’ve come before. That’s the genesis of this project. To determine the greatest players ever to put on a Falcons uniform.
This list will probably cause disagreement among some or vehement outrage among others. There may be cheers and parades thrown in my honor – or more vehement outrage. You get the idea.
If you are a Falcons fan, if no one else can understand, and if you click the jump, maybe you can read… The All-Time Atlanta Falcons Team.
As those of you who read my Best Falcons Draft Picks article will know, I have certain requirements before a player can make the list.
For this list I focused on players who played a significant portion of their career as a Falcon. I also focused on what the player brought to the team during his entire career. One Hit Wonders get dinged here and short-timers didn’t always make the cut.
With the “Please Don’t Yell At Me” disclaimer out of the way, let’s get to it:
QUARTERBACK: Steve Bartkowski
Historians will remember Bartkowski as the player drafted the pick before Walter Payton, but the UC-Berkeley graduate would go on to have a great career for the Falcons. He is the Falcons all-time passing leader and between 1978-1984 only three players had more passing yards (Dan Fouts, Joe Theismann, Ron Jaworski).
Honorable Mention: Michael Vick
I covered Andrews in depth here.
Dunn might be a surprise to some. The honorable mentions and Dunn could be put in a hat and any choice would be a good one. I chose Dunn based on his durability. He started 83 games during his time with the Falcons – 17 and 19 more than Riggs and Anderson, respectively.
Honorable Mention: Jamal Anderson, Gerald Riggs, Michael Turner
Mathis is the Falcons’ all-time leading receiver and from 1994-2001 he was sixth in the NFL in total receptions. And who could forget his career-defining game in 1995.
Jenkins was Bartkowski’s favorite target and was the Falcons leading receiver when he retired after the 1983 season. His teammate on this all-time team broke his record.
Honorable Mention: Andre Rison
This is almost a toss-up between Mitchell and Crumpler and I could probably be persuaded either way. I give Mitchell the nod because he was dominant in a run-heavy league. He was the fourth-best tight end (by receptions) during his time while Crumpler was the seventh-best.
Honorable Mention: Alge Crumpler, Junior Miller
You’ve made it this far? You’re a real die-hard fan. Pick up your Falcons mini helmet at the door and continue on for the rest of the offense.