Hey Falcoholic’s, it’s me, Evan Birchfield. This new segment appropriately named “Throwback Thursday” will focus weekly on a former Atlanta Falcons’ player and pay respect to what they did for the franchise. Whether you’ve been a fan since the inaugural season, or just became a fan recently, this series will highlight and hopefully give insight on players from the past. Without further ado, let’s get started.
I wanted to kick this new series off with a very underrated player in the history of the Falcons’ franchise, linebacker Jessie “The Hammer” Tuggle. A lot of the newer fans may recognize the name due to Jessie being the father of current Atlanta Falcons DT Grady Jarrett. But long before Grady was eating feasting in the trenches, his father was laying the wood on the opposition.
Tuggle is a Georgian through and through, as he was born in Griffin, GA where he attended high school and went on to play college ball for Valdosta State in Valdosta, GA. It only makes sense that after going undrafted in in 1987, he signed with his home-state Atlanta Falcons. Tuggle made the roster, which then led to a remarkable 14-year NFL career, all spent with the Falcons.
He was selected to his first Pro Bowl in 1992, and followed it up with more selections in 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1998. In the 1998 season, his loyalty payed off as the Falcons won the NFC Championship and went on to unfortunately lose Super Bowl XXXIII against the Denver Broncos. Following the 2000 season, Tuggle called it a career and retired. The Falcons honored #58 with “Jessie Tuggle Day” during halftime of the Atlanta Falcons vs. Detroit Lions in 2002, and he was a part of the 2004 inaugural class of the exclusive Falcons’ Ring of Honor. In 2007, Tuggle was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
To this day, Tuggle still holds the franchise record for tackles (1,640) and fumble recovery touchdowns (5), which at the time of his retirement was an NFL Record. Growing up in the 90’s, Tuggle was the Falcons’ defense in my eyes. “The Hammer” was someone who had respect throughout the league, and rightfully so. We can only hope that someday Jessie Tuggle is rightfully honored by being voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Share some of your favorite memories of Jessie “The Hammer” Tuggle below! As always, you can find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. Thanks for reading, Falcoholics.