In Falcons history, surprisingly few players have worn #57 - though the reasons why will soon become clear. Let's get two of the names out of the way first. From 1966 to 1968, Bill Jobko and Dick Absher wore 57 for the Falcons. If you're in one of their fan clubs, I apologize for the fact that I'm completely skipping them in this article (though you really should reconsider your fan club membership).
Clay Matthews Jr.
From 1994 to 1996, the father of current Green Bay LB Clay Matthews III was an Atlanta Falcon. In his time in the NFL, Matthews Jr. was a very good linebacker himself - having earned 3 All-Pro selections and 4 Pro-Bowl selections in his 19 NFL seasons. However, by the time Matthews came to Atlanta, he was on the backside of his career and retired after spending 3 seasons with the Falcons. While he's certainly a notable name and an excellent player, there's simply no comparison to the man who wore #57 before him.
Jeff Van Note
From 1969 to 1986 - yes, 18 years - Van Note wore the number 57 for this franchise. Drafted in the 11th round of the 1969 NFL draft to play linebacker, Van Note was quickly moved over to center by head coach Norm Van Brocklin. He would play the position for 18 years, for a total of 246 games and starting 225 of those. He's second only to Mike Kenn for total number of starts for a Falcons player in team history. His 18-year tenure with the Falcons is the second longest for any player with a single team and maybe most amazingly, he missed only 4 games in his entire career.
During his playing years, he would make 6 Pro-Bowls and was a 2x 2nd-team All Pro. His jersey has been officially retired, so this list and it's rankings will never change again for the Falcons. He was also voted the franchise's favorite player during the Falcons 25th anniversary season (in 1991) and was also inducted into the Falcons Ring of Honor on October 1st, 2006.
To be blunt, there will never be a better player to wear #57 in the team's history, and Van Note may be one of the greatest Falcons to have ever played. What are your thoughts on Van Note?