We’re in the dead period of football (you can read about how much I hate this period here), and with it, we don’t have much to talk about except for some speculation here and there.
I figured this would be a good time to look back on some moments in Falcons history and maybe re-live them while we wait for football to come back.
That idea has given rise to a new series of “Throwback Thursday” articles I’m planning on writing throughout the dead period. Each week, we’ll re-live and discuss a certain moment in this franchise’s 52-year history.
You can find last week’s Throwback Thursday article, about Big Ben Right, here.
Falcons Draft Deion Sanders
The Atlanta Falcons spent most of the 1980s in obscurity. Following a promising start to the decade, winning the NFC West for the first time with a franchise best (at the time) 12-4 record, the birds took a nose dive.
Other than a playoff appearance in the strikeout shortened 1982 season, in addition to that great 1980 season, the Falcons would finish below .500 and miss the playoffs in every other year in the 80s. After a 5-11 finish in 1988, the franchise desperately needed a shot in the arm with the fifth pick in the 1989 NFL Draft.
They got just that when they selected Deion Sanders, the loquacious and charismatic CB/return man out of Florida State. The top of that 1989 draft was one for the ages, with four of the first five selections all ending up in the Hall of Fame.
Sanders lived up to the billing, utilizing his otherworldly speed and incredible pure coverage skills to almost instantly become the team’s leader and best player.
In five seasons with the Falcons, Deion Sanders totaled: 24 interceptions (three returned for a touchdown), seven forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, two punt return touchdowns, three kick return touchdowns and 10 total touchdowns. “Primetime” set 12 club records in his time with the birds.
Sanders was voted to the Pro Bowl in the 1991, 1992 and 1993 seasons, while also being a First-Team All-Pro selection in 1992 and 1993. He did this while also playing baseball for the Atlanta Braves in the offseason.
Unfortunately, the Falcons would suffer through a lot of losing in Sanders’ tenure with the team, only making the playoffs in 1991 (we’ll talk about that later).
Deion Sanders would end up leaving the Falcons after five seasons to join the San Francisco 49ers and then the Dallas Cowboys, winning a championship with each. One can only guess how different things might have been had he been on that 1998 team that made it to the Super Bowl.
Despite the split, Sanders has gone down as one of the best Falcons in franchise history, and I think we all wish he was still here bringing in all those interceptions. In 2010, he became just the eighth player to be inducted into the team’s ring of honor.
Expect these “Throwback Thursday” articles to be recurring throughout the offseason, to reminisce about the team’s history and to give us some stuff to talk about. Don’t expect them to go in order, however. The next one could look back on a moment that occurred in the 90s or even a few years ago. Between you and me, I’m just making it up as I go along.