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’ll kick things off with former defensive lineman Jumpy Geathers.
Time in Atlanta: 1993-1995
Stats: 90 tackles, 18.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles
Why you should remember him
Before Jumpy Geathers was a remarkably productive Falcon from his age 33-to-age 35 seasons, he played in New Orleans and Washington. His association with the hated Saints should have made him less than a fan favorite in Atlanta, perhaps, but he would go on to enjoy the most productive two season stretch of his career with the Falcons, so all was forgiven.
But let’s rewind a bit. Geathers came into the NFL as a 2nd round pick for New Orleans back in 1984 and spent six seasons with them, piling up 26 sacks as a rotational defensive end and sometimes defensive tackle for that team. He jumped ship in 1990 to Washington, where he spent three seasons and managed 12.5 sacks, also getting his first and only Super Bowl ring. As a free agent in 1993, he headed to Atlanta, where he would go on to have the best three stretch of his career despite increasingly bad knees that made his nickname seem a little less apt.
In three seasons, 46 of a possible 48 games, and just three starts, Jumpy piled up 18.5 sacks and forced five fumbles, making one playoff appearance in 1995 with Atlanta. On a solid defensive line featuring Chuck Smith, one of the team’s greatest pass rushers ever, and a still potent Chris Doleman, Geathers moved around the line in relief and used his power to great effect, enduring a quiet 1993 season before finishing second on the team in sacks in 1994 with 8 (behind Smith, who had 11) and second on the team in 1995 with 7 (behind Doleman, who had 9).
Geathers was certainly a favorite of mine as a kid, mostly because of his awe-inspiring power and his extremely memorable name. And the forklift.
Geathers is probably best remembered today for that signature move, which is a move lifted straight out of pro wrestling and with all the psychological power that would suggest. The video above is grainy, but if you’re unfamiliar with Geathers’ work, this is a nice introduction to the way he would simply lift overmatched blockers off their feet and use them as a cudgel against the quarterbacks he evidently hated so much.
Geathers finished his career with 62 sacks across four teams, with a ruptured Achilles tendon in training camp costing him the 1997 season with the Broncos and, unfortunately, a second Super Bowl ring. The Geathers family has been extremely prolific, with nephews Robert Geathers Jr., Kwame Geathers, Clifton Geathers and Clayton Geathers all making it to the NFL. Robert Jr. played almost as long as his uncle, too.
So while the Geathers name lives on, Jumpy only comes up occasionally in rememberance of those fun early 90s Falcons teams. As one of the most underrated defensive linemen of that time period and a terrific contributor for a short time in Atlanta, I hope Geathers is remembered a little more fondly and readily after you’ve read this.