The Scale of Falconliness, Inside Linebackers Week: Tommy Nobis

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.

Stand up.

Tommy Nobis, Middle Linebacker (1966 - 1976)

Falconly Unfalconly
  • The first-ever Falcon.
  • Drafted by both the Falcons and the AFL's Houston Oilers. Nobis was from Texas, yet chose Atlanta. Not even a recorded message from space by a Gemini 7 astronaut imploring Nobis to "sign with Houston" swayed him.
  • Two-time Falcons Player of the Year. Led the team in tackles nine times.
  • Holds the unofficial record for tackles in a season with 294 in his 14-game rookie year, which works out to 21 per game. We know old Falcons tackle record-keeping integrity was iffy/hilarious, but let's be serious -- you can only pad a stat so far, folks. As Len Pasquarelli notes: "even if Nobis made just half as many stops as those for which media guides credit him, that still would be an unbelievable season [Falcoholic's note: 10.5 per game, 16 game season: 168 tackles]. By comparison, the NFL's top tackler this past season, San Francisco 49ers inside linebacker Patrick Willis, had 152 in 16 games."
  • Eleven years with the Falcons, tied for sixth all-time. 
  • Five-time Pro Bowler (the first Falcon Pro Bowler), second-best of any Falcon. 1967 All Pro (the first Falcon All Pro). 1966 Rookie of the Year (the first OK YOU GET IT.)
  • 1960s All-Decade team.
  • No other player ever has worn #60 for the Falcons. The team's first retired number.
  • Inaugural Ring of Honor member.
  • The 49ers' Ken Willard, a four-time Pro Bowl fullback, wrote in after reading a Playboy article on Dick Butkus: "When you get around to writing a story on the best linebacker in the NFL, may I suggest Tommy Nobis of Atlanta." 
  • 49ers coach Jack Christiansen, a Hall of Fame defensive back: "I don't know how much Nobis got paid, but whatever it was, he was underpaid."
  • Dan Reeves, Cowboys running back for eight years: "I certainly took my share of hits. Unfortunately I remember some of them, particularly the ones from Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis. He should be considered a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame."
  • Dolphins Hall of Fame fullback Larry Csonka: "I'd rather play against Dick Butkus than Nobis." 
  • Not to start shit, but nobody ever said anything like the previous five quotes about Jessie Tuggle.
  • Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. Not really relevant, but SI named him to their college football All-Century Team.
  • In a 1970s poll by ABC, he was named the second-best athlete of the '60s behind O.J. Simpson.
  • Tommy Nobis has never led police on a 30-mile-per-hour chase across Los Angeles.
  • Founded the Tommy Nobis Center in 1975, giving work training to people with disabilities. It's grown from an office on Bells Ferry Road into a network including six cities in four states. Also works with the Georgia Special Olympics.
  • Apparently a Hawks fan.
  • Was basically a character from Mad MenHello, ladies.
  • Never left the team. Joined the front office, and is currently Vice President of Player Development.
  • His nickname for the past four decades and forever: "Mr. Falcon."


Current standings after the jump:

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