- NFL All-Decade Team (1980s)
- 2x First-Team All-Pro (1986-87), 1x Second-Team All-Pro (1988)
- 4x Pro Bowl (1986-89)
- Started 115 games at right guard for Falcons over eight NFL seasons
While the Atlanta Falcons haven’t gone more than a few years in recent history without making the playoffs, let’s just say that the middle of the 1980s weren’t all that kind to the organization. Atlanta would go nine seasons without making the NFC Playoffs from 1982 to 1991. No, I didn’t help that Atlanta played in the same NFC West as the Bill Walsh San Francisco 49ers.
Though winning ball games wasn’t easy in the 1980s for the Falcons, they did manage to draft a handful of excellent players during that time frame. One guy that continuously gets overlooked from that period of Falcons football is perennial Pro Bowl right guard Bill Fralic.
Atlanta drafted the two-time unanimous All-American offensive lineman out of Pittsburgh with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1985 NFL Draft. Fralic would transition from offensive tackle to right guard at the professional level. He became a starter as a rookie and put together eight outstanding years on the Falcons offensive line.
Beginning in 1986, Fralic would make it to the Pro Bowl four straight seasons. He was named an All-Pro first team player in back-to-back years in 1986 and 1987, making the All-Pro second team in 1988. Atlanta wasn’t anything close to a playoff team in Fralic’s prime, but he and left tackle Mike Kenn sure were excellent as a tandem.
Then in 1991, the Falcons would reach their first playoff berth in nine years and the fourth in franchise history. However, Fralic would only play one more season in Atlanta before leaving for the Detroit Lions in free agency. Fralic ended up being one of the first players to hit it big in NFL free agency, as his salary doubled with the 1993 Lions.
1993 would prove to be Fralic’s last season in the NFL. While he hasn’t earn Canton enshrinement, Fralic has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame after his brilliant career at Pittsburgh.
His Canton case is somewhat compelling. While the Falcons weren’t good when he played for them, Fralic was a three-time All-Pro and made the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 1980s. While Canton will wait, it may be time to induct Fralic into the Falcons Ring of Honor as the best guard in franchise history.