The first round of voting has concluded for our hypothetical Falcoholic video game. Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White, Jamal Anderson, Warrick Dunn and Jeff Van Note all made it through to the second round. Also prevailing were Michael Vick, who was up against Bobby Petrino, and Chipper Jones, who was up against the New Orleans Saints. Vick actually played several years for the Falcons, as opposed to sneaking out of town after a few months, like Petrino, and even though Chipper Jones played baseball and not football, clearly most people prefer him to the Saints. Sadly for Vick and Chipper, they're getting booted out of this competition at this point, because I no longer need them as placeholders in the bracket.
Tommy Nobis vs. Ray Buchanan
Ring of Honor linebacker Tommy Nobis was the very first player to be drafted by the Falcons organization in 1966, and he played his entire career with the Falcons. Nobis played in an era before the league tracked tackle numbers, but he led the team in tackles in nine of his eleven seasons. Nobis posted 12 career interceptions, and two touchdowns, and was a five-time Pro Bowler.
Defensive back Ray Buchanan played for the Falcons from 1997-2003, and helped the team get to the Super Bowl in 1998. He racked up 30 interceptions over the course of those seven seasons, putting him third on the Falcons all-time interceptions list.
Jessie Tuggle vs. Sean Weatherspoon
Jessie "The Hammer" Tuggle is a legendary former Falcon, and a Ring of Honor member. Tuggle holds the team record for the most career yards on fumble recoveries, the most career touchdowns on fumble recoveries, and is also pretty high on the lists of most seasons played (14) and most games played (209.) Tuggle was a five-time Pro Bowler, and had 12 straight 100-tackle seasons.
Sean Weatherspoon is a young, ascendant player who evolved into the leader of the Falcons defense last season. In 2012, Spoon led the team in tackles despite missing some games due to injury, and also managed three sacks, five hits and 14 hurries on opposing quarterbacks. He also has an excellent celebration dance.
Claude Humphrey vs. John Abraham
Ring of Honor member Claude Humphrey was a six-time Pro Bowler, and the Falcons all-time sack leader, with 94.5, the all-time leader for sack yardage with 757, and third on the Falcons list for most sacks in one season with 15.
I miss John Abraham already. A prolific pass rusher during his time with the Falcons, Abe is second on the total sacks list with 58.5, the all-time leader for the most sacks in a season with 16.5, and third on the list for most sack yards with 388.
Deion Sanders vs. Tony Gonzalez
Now we're pitting a current Hall of Famer against a future Hall of Famer. Deion Sanders, also known as PrimeTime, also known as Neon Deion, played cornerback, and also returned kicks and punts for the Falcons. Over the course of his four-season career with the Falcons, Sanders had 3,967 combined return yards, ten touchdowns--five on returns, three from interceptions and two receiving touchdowns. Sanders was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011 as a Falcon.
Tony Gonzalez, returning to the Falcons in 2013, has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career, and is widely considered the best tight end to ever take the field. Gonzalez came to Atlanta after an impressive stint in Kansas City. Gonzalez is currently second, behind the legendary Jerry Rice, on the league's all-time receptions list, and he holds league records for the tight end position in career receptions, career receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and 100-yard games.
Dan Reeves vs. Mike Smith
Dan Reeves coached the Falcons from 1997 to 2003, and led the Falcons to the Super Bowl in 1998. Until this season, when Mike Smith surpassed him, he was the Falcons all-time winningest coach. The Falcons were 49-59 under his leadership with playoff berths in 1998 and 2002, and a Super Bowl appearance in 1998.
Mike Smith is now the winningest Falcons coach of all time. He turned around a struggling franchise in 2008, and has led the team to five consecutive winning seasons, a team first, as well as four playoff appearance in five years. This is a spectacular era in Falcons history, and Mike Smith bears much of the responsibility for it.
These are all very difficult decisions, and having so many players and coaches in team history worthy of being featured on the cover of a fictional video game is a good problem to have. Visit the official bracket and make your selections, and discuss in the comments!