Who's the ultimate Falcon? And who's the ultimate anti-Falcon? That's what we're going to find out with our summer project: the Scale of Falconliness. We'll rate former Falcons on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most Falconly. The rule: minimum of three seasons with the Falcons for coaches, five seasons for players.
Today's classic passer took a half-decade pummeling and just kept firing -- and firing well.
Bob Berry, Quarterback (1968 - 1972)
- Five seasons as the Falcons' starter, including the team's first-ever non-losing season in 1972.
- 1969 Pro Bowl -- and he should've made at least one more. Led the NFL in yards-per-attempt in 1971 and finished second in 1972. Finished in the top six in passer rating.
- Sixth in career passing yards as a Falcon; fifth in touchdowns.
- The first Falcons starter to complete 50% or more of his passes for a season. Berry even hit 60% in 1971, good enough for second-best leaguewide. He also finished third and fifth in 1970 and 1972.
All this despite being one of the NFL's five most-sacked quarterbacks pretty much every year of his Atlanta career. Imagine what Berry, one of the league's most efficient passers, could have done behind a non-expansion offensive line. FWIW, he was sacked only about one-third as often as a non-Falcon, and quite a bit less often than Falcons contemporaries Randy Johnson and Dick Shiner, despite not being very nimble. (Depressingly, our rules prohibit Dick Shiner from being included in our voting.)
- Speaking of his unathletic pocket presence: remember that time Vikings coach NORM VAN BROCKLIN benched Fran Tarkenton out of spite? Bob Berry was the benefactor*. As the Vikings quarterback in 1966, he threw five picks to the Falcons, giving the Early Birds their second-ever victory. NORM hauled Berry along to Atlanta, meaning Berry was perhaps the only human or thing in the world or universe that NORM liked. (Yes, NORM eventually traded him anyway.)
- Engineered the Falcons' first-ever last-minute-comeback victory against his apparent nemesis, the New York Giants' Fran Tarkenton.
- Spent less than half of his career in Atlanta.
- Played 24 games over six seasons with the Vikings, starting and ending his career in Minnesota.
* That Sports Illustrated article on Atlanta football culture in the '50s and '60s is a must-read, by the way.
Current standings after the jump: