What makes a player great?
Many of us would be inclined to say someone with a long career that places him near the top of the franchise rankings for a given position. Others would say someone with a moment that crystallizes in the collective consciousness of Falcons fans, something that makes them truly legendary.
I would say Jason Snelling was a great Falcon, though not for the traditional reasons. As a seventh-round draft pick out of Virginia, Big Snell wasn't a lock to make the roster in 2007, much less become a useful player. Seven seasons later, he has over 2,600 combined yards, 17 touchdowns, an extremely memorable touchdown against the Saints and a host of big plays that are only noticed in passing. What he did so well during his time here was serve as a glue guy, the kind of teammate everyone loves and the player who can do a little bit of everything at a position where that's so often needed.
To come back to that last point, the Falcons have prized versatility under Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith, and arguably no one has been more versatile than Snelling. He can play special teams adroitly, he's a bruising if inconsistent runner, a smooth pass catcher and a good enough blocker that the Falcons can throw him on the field as a fullback. It's a hell of an accomplishment to stick on the same roster for seven seasons as a seventh-rounder, but Snelling has the blueprint for any player. Be good, be versatile and be a good person, which Snelling was throughout most of his seven year run in Atlanta.
Snelling's retirement feels like the end of an era for that reason. He survived the regime change from 2007 to 2008 and became the kind of player fans pined for more of. His stats look fairly pedestrian, but there was no question that he made an outsized impact on the collective psyche of Falcons fans, and that the team knew they could rely on the man in a tough spot.
The Falcons need to get younger at running back, but Snelling was the kind of guy who could have played another three of four years doing . You can expect a draft pick in the mid-to-late rounds to take his roster spot, but we'll be lucky if that guy is as good and as personable as #44.
Ignore the marijuana arrest, which was irresponsible for Snelling but not something that should define his legacy in Atlanta. Focus instead on his Falcons career, which was a remarkable one. We wish him well in his retirement
Your thoughts regarding Snelling's retirement?