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Falcons Uniform History: #43 is Hard Luck Hampton

Dave Hampton got so close to 1,000 rushing yards in 1972 and 1973 while wearing #43.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

There were a handful of candidates for the best Falcons player in team history to wear the number 43, but one stood out both in terms of productivity and the challenges he faced on the field in his first couple of seasons.

Running back Dave Hampton played for Atlanta from 1972 through 1976, and he was very productive over that time. As a matter of fact, Hampton passed the 1,000-yard rushing mark in the last game of the 1972 season. On the next play, however, he was stopped for a loss of five yards, making his final rushing total for the season 995 yards. Hampton also had six touchdowns that season.

Hampton's numbers were similar in 1973, totaling 997 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 263 carries. 1974 was a bad year for the league, with a players strike, and for the Falcons, with head coach Norm Van Brocklin inviting media to fight him, and it wasn't a great year for Hampton, either. Hampton was injured early in the season and finished the year with just 464 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

In 1975, Hampton finally reached the 1,000-yard mark, finishing the season with 1,002 rushing yards and five touchdowns on 250 carries. Hampton was pulled from the game after he surpassed 1,000 yards, allowing him to keep his net yards total intact.

The Falcons traded the 29-year old Hampton to the Eagles in the middle of the 1976 season, and he faded into obscurity, but he'll be fondly remembered in Atlanta for his contributions while wearing the number 43.

Honorable mention for number 43 is cornerback Brent Grimes, who wore the number during his first season in Atlanta. Grimes, of course, has developed into a Pro Bowl-caliber player, and he had 13 interceptions and 56 passes defensed as a Falcon. While wearing number 43, however, Grimes had just 11 tackles and one assist.