Atlanta Falcons: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Jessie Tuggle, Atlanta Falcons
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

. LB. (1987-00). Jessie Tuggle. 6. player. 44

  • Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor (2004)
  • 5x Pro Bowl (1992,1994-95, 1997-98)
  • 3x All-Pro (1991, 1994, 1998)
  • Most tackles made of any player during the 1990s (1,293)
  • Nicknamed “The Hammer”; father of Falcons defensive tackle Grady Jarrett

Tommy Nobis might be Mr. Falcon, but Jessie Tuggle is “The Hammer”. Both are Falcons royalty and both are grossly overlooked in the history of the NFL. Unlike Nobis, who was a No. 1 overall pick by the Falcons in 1966, Tuggle would achieve gridiron stardom as a former undrafted player out of Valdosta State.

Tuggle was only able to even make the roster as a rookie thanks to a series of injuries in 1987 camp. Let’s just say that Tuggle made the absolute most of his illustrious 14-year NFL career spent entirely with the Falcons. After serving in a reserve role his first two years in the league, Tuggle would emerge as a starter in 1989 and never looked back.

Tuggle started in the middle of the Falcons defense for a dozen seasons. He made five trips to the Pro Bowl and three All-Pro teams during his NFL career. Nobody tackled like Tuggle did in the 1990s, as he recorded more tackles than anybody in the league with 1,293. His best season with the team came in 1998, as he led the Falcons defense to Super Bowl XXXIII.

However, Tuggle played in just six career postseason games. Atlanta only made the playoffs three times in his Falcons career. Perhaps that is a huge reason for Tuggle not having garnered Canton enshrinement? Could he get there one day? Maybe.

Overall, Tuggle’s punishing taking ability made him not just a fan favorite, but one of the most ferocious defensive players during his prime in the 1990s. In 2004, just four years after his football retirement, Tuggle would be one of the first four Falcons to be inducted into the Ring of Honor alongside Nobis, running back William Andrews and quarterback Steve Bartkowski.

Tuggle’s Falcons legacy is both long-lasting and still growing. This is because his younger son Grady Jarrett now stars in the middle of Dan Quinn’s defense in Atlanta. Jarrett may not achieve the on-field accolades of his father, but having three quarterback sacks of Tom Brady in Super Bowl LI is impressive. Not that many father-son combos have played in Super Bowls for that matter. We had “The Hammer, now we have “The Truck Driver” in the ATL.