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 running back Jason Snelling.
Jason Michael Snelling was born on Dec. 29, 1983, in Toms River, New Jersey. Snelling attended Lloyd C. Bird High School where he was an all-district running back and was named to the all-region team three consecutive years. At Lloyd C. Bird, Snelling rushed for over 3,300 career yards and scored 14 touchdowns during his senior year. In 2007, Lloyd C. Bird High School retired his jersey.
For college, Jason Snelling headed south for the University of Virginia, where he averaged 5.3 yards per rush for the Cavaliers. Prior to his sophomore season, Snelling was diagnosed with epilepsy which caused him to take a medical redshirt during that season. His rushing average is still the fifth best on the all-time rushing list at Virginia.
With the 244th overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft, the Atlanta Falcons selected Jason Snelling. In his rookie season, Snelling appeared in seven games, in which he had 13 rushes for 43 yards and a touchdown. It wouldn’t be until his third season with the Falcons that Snelling would have arguably his best year, totaling 142 rushing yards, 259 receiving yards and 5 total touchdowns. Even when listed as a fullback, the Falcons would innovate Snelling into their passing game, which became a fixture for the next several seasons.
On Jan. 3, 2010, Jason Snelling rushed 25 times for a career-high 147 yards and added three receptions for 21 yards in a victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The win helped the Falcons lock up their first back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history.
Snelling was re-signed by the Falcons on April 15, 2010. His play and the return of Bradie Ewing led to the Falcons to not re-sign fullback Mike Cox. 2012 was a big season for Snelling, as he had 19 carries for 58 yards and caught 31 passes for 170 yards and one touchdown. In the playoffs, he had a receiving touchdown against the Seattle Seahawks. Additionally, he was a strong special teams contributor. In 2012, he had the third-most special teams tackles on the team.
After seven seasons with the Falcons, Jason Snelling retired from the NFL on March 4, 2014. He finished his career with 363 carries, 1,420 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns, 168 catches, 1,249 receiving yards, and 9 receiving touchdowns.
Snelling’s numbers, although welcomed, aren’t what makes him memorable in the eyes of Falcons fans. He’s one of those guys who will likely be forgotten decades from now, but fans who lived through the 2000s will remember him well. Snelling was that one guy who would rise above his modest skillset and leave a sizable impression on fans. For a seventh-round selection, he was a very productive running back, who was not only valuable to a young Matt Ryan’s career, but consistent with his play.
Let me know in the comments below some of your favorite Jason Snelling memories. As always, you can find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. Thanks for reading, Falcoholics!