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Former Falcons great Bill Fralic dead at 56

It’s too young for a good man and a ferocious blocker.

Atlanta Falcons v San Francisco 49ers Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

With offensive linemen, invisibility is often an asset. If no one notices you outside of the folks who love a good film breakdown, it’s probably because you’re doing your job, and you’re doing it well.

Bill Fralic was one of the exceptions to that rule. He stood out the same way a steamroller stands out at a kiddie pool, because of its size and power and extreme potential for harm. He inspired the term “pancake block” because of the way he, well, pancaked folks. Fralic went to four Pro Bowls as a Falcon, and while he’s not remembered the way say Mike Kenn or Jeff Van Note is, he was as nasty on the field and thoughtful off of it as anyone in the team’s history, and a legitimately terrific player. He was also a vocal anti-steroids voice during a time where the NFL certainly wanted to pretend that was not an epidemic, and he also participated in Wrestlemania 2. Bill Fralic was awesome.

Fralic died Friday at 56 of cancer, and current and former Falcons and fans mourned the loss of a big man with an outsized reputation for decency and, again, pancaking people.

Our thoughts are with Fralic’s family and friends tonight, and we hope yours are too.