So, you know those throwback time machine sports Twitter accounts you only kind of half look at? Well, one of those has brought up a Falcons memory so dumbfounding and so, so heartening that it affirms what it means to be a fan of this unspeakably impossible team.
December 17, 1972 vs. @Chiefs, @AtlantaFalcons RB Dave Hampton became the first Falcon to reach 1000 yards rushing in a season. The game was stopped & he was presented with a trophy. On the next play, he lost 6 yards, never got another carry, & finished the season with 995 yds pic.twitter.com/7l2KEMRbgq— 1970s NFL (@1970sNFL) March 30, 2018
So, our friend Dave Hampton here just displayed one of the earliest recorded signs of “Falconing,” the phrase given to any example of an incredibly-Falcony act that reinforces why our hearts are as full as our trophy cases and ring fingers are empty.
The fact that he literally got the rushing trophy in his first year with the team, went in on the literal next play, got stuffed, lost yardage/the rushing honor and never made it on the field again that season is...golly. The Falcons in a nutshell. It’s so embarrassing, but at the same time, so oddly moving. This is what we have, and no other team gets...this. How...somehow...beautiful.
A dive into his Wikipedia reveals the full story. So, the year after, Hampton, I’m not kidding, got three yards away from the 1,000 mark. The year after that? He was out for most of that season.
BUT! Then, like the dad gum phoenix rising from the ashes, Hampton rose up, got that dad gum 1,000-yard rushing mark and won the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year honor in 1975. He would later depart the team after the 1976 season for a last year in the league with the Eagles.
To be very honest, Hampton’s effort to finally get that blasted 1,000 mark is the most encouraging thing I’ve seen about the Falcons in a long, long time. After 28-3, perhaps it’s necessary for us to see this program can finally achieve something after years of missing the mark and encountering unheralded face plants. If Dave Hampton can finally do it in a Falcons uniform, than so can the Dan Quinn Falcons in getting back to the big game and capturing that dang ring once and for all.
So, on this April weekend, remember Hampton, and remember what this franchise can achieve that few others can -- stunning defeats in historic fashion that, somehow, can eventually lead to sweet, sweet victories.
We’ll have our Hampton moment one of these days.
In the meantime, relive Hampton’s story below.