Jessie Tuggle tackled people. As an asthmatic skinny kid from the middle of nowhere growing up, getting the rare opportunity to watch Tuggle ply his craft was always awe-inspiring to me, and it’s remained awe-inspiring all these years later. He simply was one of the most physical, capable defenders the Falcons have ever had, and he’ll always be recognized as a franchise great.
That tackling, though, is what brings us here today. Like Michael Turner, Tuggle holds a record that no one in franchise history seems likely to break. Unlike Turner, Tuggle’s looks borderline impossible.
Tuggle has 1,639 solo tackles to his name. That’s not only top 10 in NFL history, but it’s also the Falcons franchise mark by nearly 700 tackles. Scott Case is second on this list and doesn’t even have 1,000. If you go by combined tackles, Tuggle’s at 1,805, but either way he is comfortably ahead of everyone else in franchise history in this particular metric.
No one seems likely to come close to catching him. Paul Worrilow and Deion Jones were recent tackling machines, and their career high marks for a season thus far as 142 and 138 tackles, respectively. Tuggle’s was 207, which says a lot about the era he played in and how good he was. For someone to catch Tuggle, they’d have to average over 200 tackles a year for 8 seasons, or clock in at about 150 for more than a decade. That simply doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen.
Guys like Debo will be challenging some of Tuggle’s other records, and may someday challenge Tuggle and Nobis for the crown of best linebacker in franchise history. No matter what, The Hammer is likely to keep at least one franchise mark.