Dante Fowler needs to be aware of the legacy of 56

Dante Fowler is the biggest offseason acquisition since Alex Mack.

When the Atlanta Falcons acquired Dante Fowler this offseason, he had one job: wreak havoc on opposing defense and get pressure on quarterbacks. While he was one of the big splash additions, there was also Todd Gurley.

And Gurley announced he would be wearing number 21. So naturally, everybody thought ‘wait a minute’, that number should be reserved for DeAngelo Hall. Okay, no one thought that but there were flashbacks to Prime Time himself, Mr. Deion Sanders, who also sported number 21 on Sundays.

But while that became a story because of Sanders’ larger than life persona, the number that people didn’t focus on was number 56. And quite frankly, those digits should get a lot more respect than they currently do. Because Keith Brooking was one of the Atlanta Falcons most consistent linebackers.

Among the Atlanta Falcons franchise greats.

Before there was Luke Kuechly, there was the Georgia grown product, Mr. Brooking. He spent 11 years in Atlanta, racking up more than 1,100 tackles in 161 games. You could count on seeing number 56 on the field every Sunday.

While he was often overshadowed by the likes of Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis, his impact on the Atlanta Falcons defense can’t be overstated. Falcons fans saw what happened two years ago when you lose your middle linebacker. Deion Jones went down for 10 games and the Falcons D could never get it together.

Brooking wasn’t going to put fear in a player coming across the middle, but you could count on him to be in the right position to make a play. He was also the emotional leader for the Falcons and doesn’t quite get the respect he deserves.

Now, while he did cost Atlanta during Matt Ryan’s rookie season by biting on a play-action on third and long, he was, for the most part, the most consistent defensive guy Atlanta had.

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Falcons folklore triggers thoughts of numbers 2,7,11 and 21. And that should always be the case. But Fowler choosing number 56 should carry some weight and legitimate expectations. Because the last guy to do it in that number often made a difference.

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