Hey Falcoholics, I’m back with another edition of The Falcoholic’s Throwback Thursday series. This weekly segment highlights a former Atlanta Falcons’ player and discusses 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 give insight on players from the past. So let’s begin.
Last week’s inaugural article was on middle linebacker Jessie “The Hammer” Tuggle, and this week we will focus on another Falcons’ linebacker, Tommy Nobis. If you’re a newer fan, you likely have no idea who he is. The reason is because Nobis was technically the first ever Atlanta Falcon, as the Falcons selected him with the first overall selection in the 1966 NFL Draft.
Nobis went to school at the University of Texas, where he’s still known as one of the greatest linebackers in college football history. Nobis finished his collegiate career as a two-time All American (1964-1965), three-time All-Southwest Conference honoree (1963-1965), Maxwell Award winner, and helped the Longhorns win their first national championship in 1963. His #60 is retired by The University of Texas, where he’s joined by Colt McCoy, Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Bobby Layne, and Vince Young as the only Longhorns to have their jerseys retired by the school.
In the 1966 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Tommy Nobis with the first overall selection. Nobis was also selected in the AFL draft by his home state Houston Oilers, but decided to sign with the Falcons instead, officially becoming the first member of the new franchise. This is where he gained his nickname, “Mr. Falcon.” In his first season, Nobis went on to make the Pro Bowl and be selected as the NFL’s Rookie of the Year. In that season, Nobis made an immediate impact as he was named Rookie of the Year and voted to the Pro Bowl after setting a franchise record with 296 total tackles. In his 11-year NFL career, Nobis went to five Pro Bowls, was an All-Pro selection twice, and was chosen for the NFL’s “All-Decade Team” for the 1960s.
Tommy Nobis retired following the 1976 season, and was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. In 2004, “Mr. Falcon” joined quarterback Steve Bartkowski, running back William Andrews, and middle linebacker Jessie Tuggle as an inaugural member of the Falcons Ring of Honor. His jersey #60 is also one of four numbers currently retired by the Atlanta Falcons. More importantly, The Tommy Nobis Center has helped more than 25,000 people with disabilities find and keep meaningful jobs in the community for more than 40 years. Sadly, Tommy Nobis passed away on December 13, 2017 at the age 74.
I will admit, I’m not old enough to have seen Tommy Nobis play, but I’m fully aware of the impact he had on the Atlanta Falcons organization. From his success on the field, to the humanitarian he was off it, Tommy Nobis definitely earned the “Mr. Falcon” nickname. Nobis is another addition to the list of former players currently snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which will hopefully change one day.
Well, that’s all for today’s Throwback Thursday. Share some of your favorite memories of Tommy Nobis aka Mr. Falcon below. As always, you can find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. Thanks for reading, Falcoholic’s.