Years in Atlanta: 1988-1993, 1997
Stats: 266 receptions, 4,220 yards, 15.9 yards per reception, 34 touchdowns
Why you should remember Michael Haynes
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, which is why I’ll always have an outsized love for the Falcons of the early to mid-1990s. Those were the teams I first fell in love with, and I came to them with a child’s awe that is difficult to match when you’re in your mid-30s and writing about or at least thinking about this team every single day.
Even with the honeyed glaze of the past on those teams, though, you have to admit the Falcons of that era had some legitimately great players. While Andre Rison, Jeff George, Deion Sanders, and Chuck Smith are easy to summon up in the halls of your memory, there are several players who made huge contributions to the team who aren’t as readily remembered.
Michael Haynes is certainly one of them. In my memory he looms very large, even though he was “just” 6’0” and 184 listed. From very early on, though, Haynes was a dangerous deep threat with speed who absolutely ate defensive backs alive, and he had one of the most productive single seasons in franchise history before the likes of Roddy White and Julio Jones came along.
Let’s back up, though. Haynes came into the NFL from Northern Arizona in the seventh round of the 1988 draft class, and he found himself in an offense that made sparing but effective use of him his rookie year, when he caught 13 balls for 232 yards and 4 touchdowns. He followed that up with two solid seasons, with a 1989 40/681/4 and 1990 31/445/0 slash line as part of some fairly productive offenses.
He really came into his own in 1991, however. Haynes was an absolute monster that year for the Falcons, snagged just 50 balls and turning them into 1,122 yards and 11 touchdowns and averaging an absurd 22.4 yards per reception. He was a key player on a team that made the playoffs for the first time in a very long while, and he proved it wasn’t a fluke by following it up with 48 balls, 808 yards and 10 touchdowns in 1992.
Haynes would play one more season in Atlanta in 1993, putting up a career-high to that point 72 receptions for 778 yards and four touchdowns, transitioning into more of a possession, high-volume sort of role for Atlanta. The Falcons lost him to (guess who) the Saints the following season, where he enjoyed three solid seasons before returning to the Falcons in 1997 and managed 12 receptions, 154 yards, and one final reception. He retired following that season.
Haynes is far from the biggest name in franchise history at receiver—they’ve had a collection of greats over the years, from Alfred Jenkins to Andre Rison to Terance Mathis to Roddy White and now to Julio Jones and hopefully Calvin Ridley—but Haynes was a terrific one for several seasons. Perhaps more importantly, he was one of my earliest favorite Falcons, and for that any his stellar 1991 season, we salute him on this sleepy Sunday.