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Forgotten Falcons: Brian Jordan

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A two-sport athlete who decided on baseball.

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

Welcome to Forgotten Falcons, a 2019 offseason series where we remember some quality players who have been largely forgotten by the fanbase over the years. Today we take a look at Brian Jordan, a well-known figure in Atlanta whose brief NFL career is eclipsed by his accomplishments on the baseball field.

Time in Atlanta: 1989 - 1991

Stats: 5 interceptions, 4 sacks, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 safeties, 20 punt returns, 169 punt return yards, 8 kick returns, 127 kick return yards.

Why you should remember him

The Falcons flirted with a pair of two-sport athletes in the late eighties, selecting Atlanta legend Deion Sanders fifth overall in the 1989 NFL Draft, and signing Brian Jordan later that year after he was cut by the Buffalo Bills. While Sanders would play for both the Atlanta Braves and Atlanta Falcons at one point, his Hall of Fame career was charted in the NFL.

Jordan chose the other direction, accepting a three-year contract from the St. Louis Cardinals to abandon football and play baseball full-time. He flourished at the MLB level, playing 15 seasons and returning to Atlanta in a roundabout way — he roamed the outfield for the Braves from 1999-2001, and finished his professional sports career in a Braves uniform for the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

Brian Jordan still enjoys a visible presence in Atlanta as a Braves analyst, but his brief career in a Falcons jersey often flies under the radar.

Selected in the 7th round of the 1989 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills as a defensive back, Jordan was a training camp cut and subsequently snapped up by the Falcons. He found his way onto the field for four games in the ‘89 season, but started 15 games at strong safety in the 1990 and 1991 seasons — the latter earning him All-Pro honors. He tallied 5 interceptions across that span, and was also given a crack on special teams returning punts and kickoffs.

Brian Jordan made two playoff appearances with the Falcons, picking off quarterback Mark Rypien in Atlanta’s eventual loss to Washington in the 1991 NFC Divisional game. It would prove to be his final game in the NFL.

During his Atlanta Falcons tenure he was also bouncing around the St. Louis Cardinals’ minor league affiliates, having been selected 30th overall in the first-round of the 1988 MLB Draft. Itching to secure his full commitment to Major League Baseball, the Cardinals finally offered Jordan a multi-year deal with one large caveat: walk away from the game of football.

And so Brian Jordan’s NFL career came to a close after three seasons, the remainder of his time as a professional athlete spent with the Cardinals, Braves, Dodgers, and Rangers. It’s pretty mind-blowing that the Atlanta Falcons had a pair of two-sport athletes in Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan on the same defense; a quirk in Falcons history that likely won’t occur ever again.

Jordan’s Falcons’ legacy is one of a promising strong safety opting for the financial assurances and stability of Major League Baseball. He was a productive member of Atlanta’s secondary, but his decision to devote his talents to baseball full-time is why his history with the Falcons often goes overlooked — hence his inclusion in this series. Not everyone can occupy the rare air of a Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, but Brian Jordan carved out a splendid career in his own right with his dedication to professional baseball.