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Falcons Uniform History #42: Respect To Riggs

One of the greatest running backs in Falcons history headlines this list.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Many Americans considered the 1980’s, as one of the most exciting times to be alive. The glory years of basketball, boxing, and music kept everyone entertained. Unfortunately for Falcon fans, they would like to delete the 1980’s from their memory. Despite having a two-time All-Pro running back, it didn’t save Atlanta from being constantly beaten on a weekly basis. Gerald Riggs headlines this list, as his absurd production deserves recognition. This list also features several forgotten players and underachieving first round picks that wore number 42.

CB: Sean Boyd

Boyd was drafted in the fifth round of the 1996 NFL Draft. The former Tar Heel played two games during his rookie season. He was cut the following year and never played in the NFL again.

FS: Eric Brock

After going un drafted, Brock was given an opportunity to play in Atlanta during the 2008 season. He was only active for one game, as he was mostly on the practice squad. Brock was active for two games in 2009 to fulfill special teams’ duties. Atlanta cut him during the final days of training camp in 2010. That was his last opportunity in the NFL.

FS: Devin Bush

On a list of mostly backups, Bush stands out from the pack. The former first round pick was underwhelming in his four seasons with Atlanta. Bush had just three interceptions and two forced fumbles, which left the coaching staff disappointed. He was benched in the 1998 season as well. They decided not to re-sign him, which led to him wisely signing with St. Louis and winning a Super Bowl that year. His career ended in 2002 with Cleveland. Bush ended up becoming an adequate backup safety, which fell far below expectations given his first-round status.

FB: Patrick DiMarco

The current incumbent starting fullback hasn’t been a major asset. His blocking has been average through two seasons as a starter. It’ll be interesting to see how he fares against Collin Mooney to reclaim his starting role. The large shoes of Ovie Mughelli are almost impossible to fill. DiMarco simply needs to be more of an asset through winning more one-on-one battles against opposing linebackers or safeties. Your career hasn’t exactly been stellar, when the most memorable moment through the past two seasons has been a jaw-dropping drop.

SS: Jeff Donaldson

Donaldson worked his way towards having a solid career, considering he was selected in the ninth round of the 1984 draft. After playing with Houston for most of his career, he went to Atlanta in 1991. He was never exactly a ball-hawk or enforcer that was feared by opposing offensive coordinators. Donaldson was a solid safety that was constantly around the ball and willing to play special teams. His career ended in Atlanta after the 1993 season. Not many ninth round picks can label themselves as a ten-year veteran.

SS: Antuan Edwards

This list has multiple first round picks that were underachieving safeties. Edwards dealt with injuries and was benched repeatedly throughout his five years in Green Bay. After not making much of an impact in St. Louis or Miami, he looked to be out of the league in 2005. Atlanta needed safety depth in the middle of the 2005 season and signed Edwards. He was given one more opportunity by playing four games. As the team collapsed after a 6-2 start, Edwards was benched and wasn’t re-signed following their collapse in losing six out of their last eight games.

WR: John Gilliam

The four-time Pro Bowler left his mark during the early 1970’s. Gilliam was one of the most feared wide receivers through his ability to catch everything and gain yards after the catch consistently. Unfortunately, Atlanta didn’t acquire him until the 1976 season. He was declining rapidly at 31 years old and lasted only one season in Atlanta. His career ended one year later in Chicago, which marked the end of a very under-appreciated career. The former second-round pick was a human-highlight reel during his prime years in Minnesota.

RB/KR: Mark Herron

Herron only played one season in Atlanta. After being one of the most electrifying kick returners in New England, they decided to trade him in the middle of the 1975 season. Herron only played four games, as off-the-field incidents hindered his development. His career ended at 27 years old following multiple arrests. It has been reported that the former Kansas State Wildcat has been arrested 20 times through having various drug addictions.

FS: Etric Pruitt

After being selected in the sixth round of the 2004 draft, Pruitt was waived just five months later. He was waived after three games, due to the lack of linebacker depth. Seattle gave him an opportunity in 2005 to fulfill a need at backup free safety. Pruitt failed to make an impact and was out of the league following that season.

RB: Gerald Riggs

The list of accomplishments is endless for the legendary running back. What stands out the most comes from his most productive years between 1984-1986. It wasn’t that he ran for over 1300 yards (each season) during that time. How about receiving more than 340 carries for all three seasons? The grueling punishment on a running back’s body is almost unparalleled compared to other positions. Riggs’ dedication towards constantly carrying the load for dreadful teams should always be admired. His seven years in Atlanta were incredible, despite the team’s lack of success. The ninth pick in the 1982 draft exceeded expectations. Eventually, he was traded in 1989 to Washington following an injured plagued 1988 season. That decision would be successful, as Washington won the Super Bowl in 1992 and Riggs retired a champion. Not many players, let alone superstars get to experience such a gratifying moment to conclude their career.

RB: Jamal Robertson

The journeyman running back played for three teams in five seasons. At five-foot-ten, Robertson wasn’t able to make his mark as a running back. He was given minimal opportunities to be a change-of-pace back in Carolina and San Francisco. Atlanta signed him strictly for depth purposes in 2006. He was only active for one game, which led to him being expendable under new coach Bobby Petrino. Robertson was released during training camp of the 2007 season.

CB: Chris Snelling

To most people’s surprise, Jason Snelling wasn’t the only Snelling in Falcon history. Snelling was active for two games during the 1997 season. After being released by Cincinnati, Atlanta signed him for depth purposes. He never played a substantial role and was out of the league by 1998.

PR: Philip Spiller

Spiller played seven games for Atlanta during the 1968 season. After not panning out as a cornerback, he was given opportunities in St. Louis and Atlanta as a punt returner. That failed to materialize into anything significant. Spiller wasn’t given another opportunity.

SS: Jim Weatherford

After being selected in the fifteenth round of the 1969 NFL draft, Weatherford played just one season in Atlanta. Despite being mostly a backup, the former Tennessee Volunteer managed to record an interception and score a touchdown from a forced fumble. His career ended after that season for unspecified reasons.

RB: Michael Williams

Philadelphia drafted Williams in the fourth round of the 1983 NFL Draft. After two promising seasons, injuries derailed his career. Williams missed the 1985 and 1986 seasons, due to multiple knee injuries. Philadelphia gave up on him, which led to Atlanta giving him one more opportunity. Williams only lasted three games, as he was injured once again and had to retire following the 1987 season.

Final Verdict

This is easily one of the most predictable outcomes of the uniform history series. No other player on this list comes close to Riggs' accomplishments. Even through the darkest days, Riggs consistently gave a depressed fan-base something to watch through his overall ability and dedication. The legendary running back will likely forever remain, as the greatest number 42 in Falcons history.