Who could possible pick the best player to wear #14 in Atlanta Falcons history. The options are endless. What a hotly contested debate. There have been endless fights about #14. Friendships ruined. Jobs lost. Marriages crumbled.
That controversy will not stop us at the Falcoholic from delivering our sizzling hot jersey number history takes.
Who leads such a competitive group?
Steve Sloan, QB
Sloan boasts a history so rich, it makes Scrooge McDuck look homeless. In the 1960s, Sloan battled football legend Joe Namath for starting quarterback of the University of Alabama. Between rolling tide, Sloan took his team to a championship in the gritty SEC, as well as a national championship.
This man was to be the future of the expansion team Atlanta Falcons.
Selected in the 11th round of the 1966 NFL draft, Sloan set the NFL on fire by barely playing. He finished his illustrious, two season pro career completing 10 of his 31 passes for 134 yards. Not one to put up gaudy touchdowns like Namath, Sloan let the rest of the team score touchdowns, preferring to put the game in the hands of the Falcons defense by throwing four interceptions.
An underrated part of Sloan's game was his impressive rushing ability, finishing his career with one carry for two yards.
Despite this merit, Sloan is not the greatest #14 in Atlanta history.
Terry Nofsinger, QB
There are countless people out there with a Terry Nofsinger jersey in the back of their closet. The 6-foot-4, 215 pound Nofsinger had just wrapped up the best season in his career, throwing 799 yards for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Falcons were reeling. Their former franchise quarterback Sloan had torn up his shoulder. How do they save the 1967 season?
Enter Nofsinger. He lit up the field, completing 30 of his 60 passes. He played smarter ball for the Falcons, throwing only two interceptions. Fans were blown away when he threw his single touchdown pass. Despite his 7 games in 1967, and the sneaky athleticism he displayed on his three carries for 33 yards, he was out of the league in 1968.
June Jones, QB
After being the first to successfully run the "Run and Shoot" offense at Portland State, Jones started breaking records. His rookie season? He completed 100% of his passes, a feat not reached by Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, or Joe Montana. And that pass was completed for -1 yards.
He would never again reach such numbers, but Jones truly battled for the starting spot. He never really got the spot, as he finished up his QB career a few seasons later, completing about 45% of his 166 passes, with 3 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Jones was defeated.
But his story does not end there. Jones rose from the ashes like a phoenix and returned to Atlanta as an offensive coordinator in 1991. In a few short years, he was Atlanta's head coach. He worked his way to the top. Jeff George was electric under Jones. The next season, the Falcons reached the playoffs. The next season, the team followed the lead of Jones' quarterback career and fell apart. He was quickly fired.
Turk Schonert, QB
Look no further than the Schonert era for the next Falcon to don the number 14. It is hard to believe it was almost 19 years ago. He earned his highest career quarterback rating in Atlanta, passing for just over 1,000 yards across 8 games. Easily, the most talented quarterback to wear 14, he completed almost 62% of his passes, and won almost half of his starts. Thanks Schonert, for the memories and both of those wins.
But that is not enough to be the best ever #14.
Eric Weems, WR
While the rest of this list filled in briefly at quarterback, Weems was (and is) an electric return specialist who helped this team win games. Even though he played sparingly on offense (34 catches as a Falcon), he made an impact on special teams and even earned a Pro Bowl nod. He had nearly 3,000 all purpose yards in 2009 and 2010 combined, and consistently helped the Falcons win tough games when the offense and defense faltered.
Even though he spent two years on the Chicago Bears, and has not been able to show off his return skills with Atlanta adding Devin Hester, Weems still puts in a great effort and makes key plays when needed.
Weems, you are the greatest Falcon to ever wear 14.