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 offensive guard Bill Fralic.
William P. Fralic Jr was born on October 31, 1962 in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania. Fralic attended Penn Hills High School where he played football and eventually graduated in 1981. He received many accolades at Penn Hills, including being named the male high school athlete of the year by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and being named to the All-Century team by Pennsylvania Football News.
After graduating, Bill Fralic stayed local and attended the University of Pittsburgh on a football scholarship. As an offensive tackle at Pitt, Fralic was named a consensus All-American his junior and senior seasons, and finished twice in the top-10 of the Heisman Trophy balloting (eighth in 1983 and sixth in 1984), the first ever for an offensive lineman.
Bill Fralic’s style of blocking helped coin the term “Pancake” block, for knocking down opposing defensive lineman. His impact at Pitt was so meaningful that the school retired his No. 79 jersey during his last home game for the Panthers. In 1998, he would be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
With the second pick in the 1985 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Bill Fralic. The Falcons originally held the fourth pick in the draft, but wanted Fralic so badly, that they traded their 1st round pick (fourth overall) and 3rd round pick to the Minnesota Vikings for the 2nd overall pick. The trade worked out well for the Minnesota Vikings also, who selected Pro Football Hall of Famer DE Chris Doleman. He should be no stranger to Falcons fans, as Doleman played for the Falcons from 1994-1995.
Right away, Fralic made an impact for the Falcons. He was a starter and went on to be an All-Pro selection in 1986 and 1987. From 1986 to 1989, Fralic was selected to four straight Pro Bowls, and even made a playoff appearance in 1991.
Bill Fralic built a reputation around the league as a prolific run blocker, despite the Falcons not being very good. Fralic helped pave the way for running back Gerald Riggs and protected quarterbacks Dave Archer and Chris Miller. He played on some very good Falcons offensive lines, which included players such as Jeff Van Note, Mike Kenn, Jamie Dukes, and Chris Hinton. He was also selected to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
During his NFL career, Bill Fralic strongly opposed the use of steroids in sports and was a big advocate for random drug testing to detect steroid usage. In 1989, Fralic testified in a U.S. Senate hearing about the rampant use of steroids in the NFL. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time, said Fralic’s testimony was “refreshing and believable.”
At the end of his NFL career, Fralic was one of the first players to take advantage of the new free agent system and signed with Detroit Lions, where he played for one season. He was involved with the WWE where he participated in Wrestlemania 2, and had a brief stint with the WWE in 1993. You can view one of his WWE interviews above.
After retiring from action, Bill Fralic worked as a color commentator, whilst also running his own insurance service. Sadly, Bill Fralic passed away at the age of 56 on December 13, 2018 from cancer.
Bill Fralic will always be remembered as an all-time great Falcon. He’s one of many players who should be inducted into the Atlanta Falcons’ Ring of Honor someday.
Let me know in the comments below some of your favorite Bill Fralic memories. As always, you can find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. Thanks for reading, Falcoholics!