With the Atlanta Falcons announcing the signing of four-time all-pro Cordarrelle Patterson, Atlanta has now been the home to many of the best kick and punt returners in NFL history.
Those names include guys like Devin Hester, Deion Sanders, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Eric Metcalf, Allen Rossum, Darrien Gordon, Ron Smith, and now Cordarrelle Patterson.
The two guys who will stand out to the average fans are Devin Hester and Deion Sanders. Devin Hester is a household name for being the king of returning special team kicks and punts. Deion Sanders was exceptional at returning anything, whether that be punts, kicks, or interceptions.
Primetime held the record for the most return touchdowns in NFL history, and that stood until then Atlanta Falcon Devin Hester broke it during a rout over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Why the Buccaneers decided to punt it to him, the world may never know, but it was one of the coolest moments in Atlanta Falcons history.
While most of these guys did not play long for the Falcons, it is still impressive looking at the history of return men for the team.
Seeing Hester high step into the endzone to break the record of Deion Sanders, while Sanders was in the building, was something special. As well as watching the two of them have a special moment during the postgame.
Devin Hester finished his career with 20 return touchdowns. 14 of those came on punt returns, five came on kick returns, and one came on a missed field goal.
Hester’s whopping 14 punt returns for touchdowns is the most of all-time and four more than the next guy on the list, who coincidentally is Eric Metcalf, another former Falcon. Metcalf, who is the father of current Seattle Seahawk D.K. Metcalf played for the Atlanta Falcons for two seasons.
It seems highly unlikely that anyone will ever break Hester’s record as it seems like there is a chance the NFL could vote to eliminate punt returns and possibly kick returns to limit injuries across the league.
The other name that most Atlanta Falcons fans may remember is Billy “White Shoes” Johnson. He is also well known for being an exceptional return man and his “Funky Chicken” dance.
He played with the Houston Oilers for seven years, the Atlanta Falcons for six years, and Washington Redskins for one year. He finished his electric career with eight total return touchdowns and had 3,317 punt return yards which are the seventh-best all-time.
New Atlanta Falcons returner Cordarrelle Patterson now how the chance to do what Devin Hester did with the team, and break an all-time record.
Cordarrelle Patterson comes to the Atlanta Falcons tied for first in NFL history with eight kick returns for touchdowns. While it may not be as historic as Devin Hester breaking the all-around return record, it is still incredibly impressive.
Falcons fans may have the chance to experience a moment eerily similar to when Hester broke the record back in 2014. It may not get as much media attention or have as special of meaning but it is sure to be exciting.
With the extra game added to the NFL season, this could provide a great chance to see the tie broken and have Patterson atop the record books.
Cordarrelle Patterson has had a kick return for a touchdown in each of the past three seasons, including a 102-yard and a 104-yard kick return in the past two seasons respectively. During his eight-year career thus far, he has only had two seasons where he has failed to reach the endzone on a kick return.
The Atlanta Falcons have had an excellent history with having all-time greats at the punt and kick return positions, and it looks like it could get even better.
It is easy to see how many great return guys the Atlanta Falcons have had in their history. The amount of players that have played for the team and who are in the top 15 or top 10 in major statistics, is stunning.
Cordarrelle Patterson is tied for first in kick returns for touchdowns, while Devin Hester and Allen Rossum are tied for ninth with five touchdowns each.
Allen Rossum is second in kick return yards with a total of 11,947, Devin Hester is 11th with 7,333 yards, and Cordarrelle Patterson is 13th with 7,118 yards.
Moving to punt return touchdowns, Devin Hester is easily in 1st place with his 14 touchdowns, Eric Metcalf sits in second with 10 touchdowns, and Darrien Gordon, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, and Deion Sanders are all tied for ninth all-time with six touchdowns each.
In the punt return yards category, Devin Hester is third with his 3,695 yards, Darrien Gordon is fourth with 3,601 yards, Eric Metcalf is fifth with 3,453, and Allen Rossum is 10th with 3,056 punt return yards. (All stats provided by Pro Football Reference.)
It is pretty incredible looking at all those stats and how they all compare to the long history of the NFL.
Let us all hope that Cordarrelle Patterson can provide a spark to the Atlanta Falcons special teams, which was less than average during the previous season. He has a great chance to be alone at the top of the kick return record books.