Atlanta Falcons: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /
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Deion Sanders, Atlanta Falcons
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

44. . CB/KR/PR. (1989-93). Deion Sanders. 2. player

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2011
  • Atlanta Falcons Ring of Honor (2010)
  • NFL All-Decade Team (1990s w/Falcons)
  • 3x All-Pro, Pro Bowl w/Falcons (1991-93)
  • Nicknamed “Prime Time” and “Neon Deion”

Atlanta has never had an athlete quite like cornerback/return specialist Deion Sanders. Yes, I meant athlete, as not only was Sanders the greatest cover corner in football history, the best return man before some guy named Devin Hester came along, but he was a speedy outfielder in the MLB for the Atlanta Braves.

Sanders was a cultural phenomenon went he went pro in two sports coming out of Florida State in 1989. He was a first-round pick by the Falcons in 1989 and played for the New York Yankees before joining the Braves in 1991.

1991 was a crazy year in Atlanta sports, and Sanders was right in the middle of it. The Braves went worst-to-first, winning the National League Pennant and came up a game short of winning the World Series. Sanders started in the outfield for that iconic Braves team.

Let’s not forget that he helped the Falcons make their first playoff berth in nine seasons in 1991. That 1991 team was one of the most fun teams in the last 30 years. Head coach Jerry Glanville was a character. Brett Favre was a troubled rookie. Sanders and wide receiver Andre Rison brought the swag most often associated with The ATL.

Though his Atlanta tenure only lasted five seasons, Sanders was a total game-changer for the cornerback position. Quarterbacks couldn’t throw in his direction. If you kicked off or punt to him, odds are Sanders would find pay dirt only a few seconds later, most often doing his patented high step into the end zone.

Simply put, Sanders was a cultural phenomenon in the 1990s. However, he would achieve new heights as a player with other teams. He won NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Super Bowl XXIX with the then division rival San Francisco 49ers in 1994. Sanders would then sign with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995, winning Super Bowl XXX and making his final four trips to the Pro Bowl playing for America’s team in the 1990s.

He played the 2000 NFL season with the Washington Redskins before retiring. Sanders would return four years out of the game to play two more years with the 2004-05 Baltimore Ravens before finally hanging up the spikes.

Sanders is obviously a College Football Hall of Fame player after being a two-time unanimous All-American while at Florida State. In 2010, he was inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor. A year later, Sanders would be the first true hall of famer that the Falcons could honestly call one of their own. The guy was nicknamed “Prime Time” for a reason. He embodied everything Atlanta loves in a superstar athlete. You gotta look good to play good.