Atlanta Falcons: 15 best free agent acquisitions of all-time

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Eugene Robinson, Atlanta Falcons
Eugene Robinson, Atlanta Falcons. Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck /Allsport /

. FS. (1998-99). Eugene Robinson. 10. player. 44

Eugene Robinson might have only played two years in Atlanta, but they are certainly memorable, yet highly controversial ones. Robinson went undrafted out of Colgate University in 1985. He ended up playing his first 11 NFL seasons in the Pacific Northwest as a member of the Seattle Seahawks, making two of his three career trips to the Pro Bowl there.

Robinson would sign with the Green Bay Packers in 1996 NFL free agency. While his personal accolades weren’t on par with those in Seattle, he did play in a pair of Super Bowls during his two-year run with Green Bay. The Packers won Super Bowl XXXI over the New England Patriots in 1996, but fell to John Elway’s Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII in 1997.

After two years with Green Bay, the aging free safety would come aboard in Atlanta ahead of the 1998 NFL season. Despite being 35 years old, Robinson had arguably the best season of his NFL career in 1998.

He made his third and final career trip to the Pro Bowl, as he made Second-Team All-Pro for the second time of his career as well. Robinson played in all 16 regular season games for the Falcons that season. He recorded 68 combined tackles (48 solo, 20 assists), four interceptions for 36 yards and a touchdown, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Clearly, Robinson’s arrival in the Falcons secondary was necessary in the team going on a magical run to the Super Bowl. After beating the No. 1 seed Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis, Robinson would be making his third straight appearance in the big game, the second in a row versus Elway’s Broncos.

Despite being arguably the best player of that historic Atlanta defense, Robinson is not thought of fondly in Falcons lore. Thought of as a man of high character for all his work off the field and in the varying communities he played, that all was shattered forever the night before Super Bowl XXXIII in Miami.

Robinson was arrested for soliciting prostitution by an undercover police officer. News of this kept most of the Falcons up all night before the big game, as they began to question if their star safety would even make it to the Super Bowl.

Dead tired, Robinson got burnt like toast by Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith on an 80-yard touchdown to put Denver up 17-3. The Broncos never looked back and Atlanta never felt the same way about Robinson again. He would play one more year with the Falcons in 1999 and the 2000 NFL season with the Carolina Panthers before retiring at the age of 37.

While Robinson’s phenomenal 1998 regular season and NFC playoffs are certainly enough to have him on this list, simply mentioning his name among Falcons fans rarely goes over well. Though an excellent player for well over a decade, it’s amazing how one huge mistake can change one person’s reputation forever.