Most people have at least a passing awareness of the Madden video game franchise, and the voting that takes place each year to determine who will grace the cover of this popular game. Voting is underway for the next installment of the game, and they're doing things a little differently this year.
Often their voting is a standard bracket that pits current player against current player, and that is a factor in this year's voting. Our own Julio Jones is up against New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham. But, this year, the good folks behind this process have added a historical element, with legendary players from all 32 teams also included, with Hall of Famer Deion Sanders rightfully representing the Falcons for that component.
So, the Falcons have excellent representatives in the hunt for the Madden cover this season. But, what if we had our own Falcoholic version of an NFL video game, and only Falcons to choose from for the cover--which player would emerge victorious?
Steve Bartkowski vs. Matt Ryan
Bartkowski was undeniably the best quarterback in Atlanta's history until Matt Ryan came along. Bartkowski played 11 seasons with the Falcons after being drafted #1 overall by Atlanta in 1975. He set every team record in passing, and was under center for the first playoff victory in team history.
And, Matt Ryan has broken a bunch of those passing records, along with leading the team to five consecutive winning seasons and four playoff appearances in five years. It's not an easy decision.
William Andrews vs. Warrick Dunn
William Andrews was the second running back in league history to post two 2,000 all-purpose yard seasons, after O.J. Simpson. He was selected to the Pro Bowl four times, and was named to the NFL's All-Rookie team in 1979. He was a beast.
And, Warrick Dunn was a totally different kind of back than Andrews, elusive where Andrews was a bruiser. Dunn played six seasons for the Falcons, posting three 1,000+ yard seasons. After one last season in 2008 with Tampa Bay, where he began his career, Dunn retired, and is now one of the partial owners of the Falcons.
Jamal Anderson vs. Gerald Riggs
Jamal Anderson--the original Dirty Bird--has to be a contender. In 1998, the season the Falcons went to the Super Bowl, he finished with 1,846 rushing yards and 14 touchdowns. Enough said.
And, Gerald Riggs is probably equally deserving. Riggs played for the Falcons from 1982-1988, and in 1984, 1985 and 1986 put up crazy rushing numbers, with 1,486, 1,719 and 1,327, respectively.
Andre Rison vs. Roddy White
Andre Rison played for Atlanta from 1990-1994, and had 1,000+ yard seasons four out of those five years, and barely missed 1,000 yards in 1991. He also scored 56 touchdowns during that timeframe.
And, Roddy White is a fundamental part of the Falcons' current high-powered offensive attack. His accomplishments are fresh in all of our minds.
Terance Mathis vs. Julio Jones
One of the all-time Falcons greats, pitted against a rising star. Terance Mathis played for Atlanta from 1994-2001, and played a big role in helping the 1998 team get to the Super Bowl, with 1,136 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns that season.
The Falcons gave up a lot to move up in the draft and acquire Julio Jones, and he has, in my opinion, proven to be worth it.
Jeff Van Note vs. Mike Kenn
Both of these guys excelled along the offensive line. Van Note played 18 seasons, and was a Pro Bowler six times. Mike Kenn is right behind him with 17 seasons played, and four Pro Bowl appearances. Both have already been inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor, and for both, the honor is well-deserved.
We'll look at some defensive candidates, special teamers, a future Hall of Famer against a current Hall of Famer, and a couple of coaches on Friday. Comment on the players you think are most deserving, and the ones you think are not deserving, and discuss!