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 their life and 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. This week we will be focusing on defensive end John Abraham.
John Antonio Abraham was born on May 6, 1978 in Timmonsville, South Carolina. Abraham was an exceptional athlete at Lamar High School, where he set the current South Carolina record for the 200-meter dash at 22.6 seconds. He also competed in the throwing events, recording top throws of 13.61 meters in the shot put and 43.05 meters in the discus. It wasn’t until his senior year at Lamar that Abraham played organized football for the very first time.
His one season of playing high school football paid off, as John Abraham was recruited to play at his home-state University of South Carolina. While playing for the Gamecocks, Abraham totaled 23.5 sacks and was a first-team All-Southeastern Conference (SEC) selection.
With the 13th overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected DE John Abraham. The selection originally belonged to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they traded it to the New York Jets for wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson. In his rookie season with the Jets, Abraham totaled 4.5 sacks and 14 combined tackles before an injury ended his season after only six games.
The following year, John Abraham was selected for the AFC Pro Bowl, after having 13 sacks and 63 combined tackles. Abraham was again named to the AFC Pro Bowl in 2002, after recording 10 sacks and 48 tackles. In 2003, Abraham was injured mid-season, and finished the year with 6 sacks and 6 sacks. In his final two seasons with the Jets, Abraham had a combined 20 sacks, another AFC Pro Bowl invite, and 106 combined tackles.
After gaining a reputation around the league as a dominant pass rusher, the New York Jets traded John Abraham to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for their 29th overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
His first season in Atlanta was injury-filled, as Abraham suffered a groin injury in the season opener, and went on to have abdominal surgery for a separate injury. In 2007, Abraham was able to show what the Falcons traded for, as he bounced back having 10 sacks and 32 tackles. In 2008 at age 30, Abraham had arguably his best NFL season as he totaled a career-best 16.5 sacks. The following year, Abraham had only 5.5 sacks and 35 tackles.
In 2010, John Abraham was not only selected for his 4th Pro Bowl, he was named a First-Team All-Pro for the second time in his NFL career. On December 12, Abraham recorded two sacks against the Carolina Panthers, which put him at 100.5 career sacks, making him only the 25th player in NFL history to eclipse 100. Also, that season, on Monday Night Football against the New Orleans Saints, Abraham recorded his first career interception after catching a Drew Brees pass attempt.
In his final two seasons in Atlanta, John Abraham recorded a combined 19.5 sacks and 70 tackles. On March 1, 2013, the Atlanta Falcons released John Abraham.
On July 25, 2013, John Abraham signed with the Arizona Cardinals. In his first season with the Cardinals, Abraham had 11.5 sacks and 37 combined tackles. He was also selected to his fifth Pro Bowl of his career.
On September 19, 2014 John Abraham’s season ended due to a concussion he suffered during the previous week’s Monday Night Football game against the San Diego Chargers. That would be his final NFL game.
With Atlanta Falcons-franchise records in sacks (68.5) and forced fumbles (24) – it’s difficult to argue against the idea that John Abraham is one of the best pass rushers in Atlanta Falcons history, if not the very best. Abraham’s 16.5 sacks during the 2008 season are still the best single-season total in franchise history. During his 15-season NFL Career, John Abraham totaled a combined 133.5 sacks, which is currently the 12th most in NFL history. He’s a borderline Hall of Famer, even if he hasn’t gotten much buzz for Canton just yet.
Let me know in the comments below some of your favorite John Abraham memories. As always, you can find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. Additionally, make sure to follow @The_Falcoholic on Instagram for up-to-date news and information. Thanks for reading, Falcoholics.