Your All-Time Favorite Atlanta Falcons

Who’s Your Favorite Birds?

The last Falcons Retro Post asked Bird Cage Family Members to give their top 10 Atlanta Falcons according to a Ring of Honor. Any standards could be used to make your own list, but the word “honor” did reside in the actual title. Now is your chance to do the same thing and build a list purely on who your favorite Falcons were/are not including any needed accomplishments, awards, or recognitions. This truly is your chance to give the players that you liked the best for whatever reasons. The greatest thing about this one is that you can’t be wrong. You may have liked this player because that’s who you remember or what jersey you bought or who has the coolest name. The point is for you to make this all about you and your favorite Falcons for any reason. Only stipulation is to keep it to ten and you don’t have to designate any rank or order unless you want to. You certainly can include some of the same from your Ring of Honor, but for purposes of variety, The Bird Cage list will be different.

Matt Ryan

It’s almost a certainty that Ryan will be included in the real Falcons Ring of Honor and may eventually shoot to the very top if things continue to go the way that many think they will. It’s easy to see why he’s a fan favorite for many, many reasons. He came into one of the worst situations for any rookie QB and not only delivered the Falcons to the playoffs, but also won Rookie of the Year honors. He followed that up with helping to break the Falcons never having back-to-back winning seasons curse, even though he was injured for 3 games of the year. In his 3rd year, Ryan made the Pro Bowl as one of the best QB’s in the NFL and led the Falcons to a 13-3 record. The knock of course is that he is 0-2 in the playoffs. Well, Peyton Manning had his issues in the playoffs, as did John Elway, and even Aaron Rodgers lost his first playoff appearance. The guy is just 25 years old and gives the Falcons the best chance of earning the long-sought after Lombardi. His excellent work ethic, commitment, and leadership make him easy to see why #2 is the most common jersey on Sundays in the Dome and why so many little Falcons fans have their #2 jerseys and Matty Ice posters.

Alfred Jenkins

Even though didn’t get a chance to see this guy in person, Jenkins is a homegrown Georgian from my father’s hometown of Hogansville and became one of the most prolific receivers to ever play for the Falcons. Even though not huge in stature, Jenkins was a fierce competitor who was not afraid to go over the middle and was a threat to take it the distance. Earned two Pro Bowl trips and one of the best WR’s to suit up in red and black.

Michael Vick

Most Dynamic Falcon Ever (C.Compton/AJC)

Disregarding all the bad stuff (which was painful and tough), Vick was the most dynamic player to ever play for the Atlanta Falcons. He took this city and franchise to heights unseen and gave fans a reason to watch again after the trip to the Super Bowl in 1998 had worn off and interest had waned. He was one of the best players to ever play for the Falcons and absolutely was king of the city and was granted as such by getting a $130 million dollar contract from Arthur Blank and the Falcons. Every time he touched the ball, you had a feeling that the Falcons had a chance. All the awfulness that followed has been well-documented, agonized over, and smashed to pieces. As the Dickens saying goes “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times,” but taking Vick’s time in Atlanta on the football field was one of the most exciting periods for Falcons fans. They say that time heals all wounds and maybe one day he may be considered for some type of reconnection to the franchise in some way, if he continues to make the most of his second chance as he’s done so far.

Scott Case

One of the toughest and grittiest players to ever wear a Falcons uniform. The defensive back was well-known for his bone-crushing hits and one of the best DB’s to play for the Falcons. Even though he only earned one trip to the Pro Bowl, he has gone down as a fan favorite for many Falcons fans for his hard-hitting and tough-driving style of play.

Andre Rison

One of my favorite players growing up. When you’re younger you don’t care about team dynamics or off-the-field stuff as much, but rather what they do on the field. Rison was the true definition of a playmaker who was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. Was fast and found success pretty much everywhere he went, especially in Atlanta where he earned 3 trips to the Pro Bowl and was one of the more exciting players to grace a Falcons uniform in recent memory. May not have been the best teammate or guy to have in the locker room, but on the field he dominated. If he would have finished out his career in Atlanta, or at least spent a few more years here, Rison would almost certainly be headed for the Ring of Honor, and still very may some day.

Patrick Kerney

Oh what could have been with Kerney lining up on one side of the defensive line and John Abraham lining up on the other. That dynamic pair of pass rushing ends never came to fruition after Abraham got hurt early on in the season. Kerney epitomized the blue collar, lunch pail mentality. After mixed success for his first two years, Kerney willed himself into an elite defensive end with hard work, desire, and commitment. Many thought that Kerney would be a Falcon for life after being drafted and developed by the Atlanta Falcons organization. He was a quick fan favorite and was one of our beloved Angel Sarah Brainerd’s favorites. Who knows whether Kerney would have come back or not, but after GM Rich McKay traded for John Abraham, that basically sealed the fact that Kerney would be moving on to different pastures.

Kroy Biermann

What’s not to like about the all-around versatile Mr. Biermann. A 5th round draft pick from Montana, Biermann was made the leap from projected outside linebacker to defensive end. When he was drafted, the “Bier Truck” as he’s affectionately known in The Bird Cage, came in at 241 and was an immediate special teams ace in his first year and even notched 2 sacks as a rotational rookie. He then packed on 20 lbs with hard work in the off-season and worked himself into a steady rotation at defensive end. He finally took the leap and was named starting defensive end opposite John Abraham. Biermann didn’t meet the high expectations in terms of sacks, but he did have a good year in all other aspects and has high hopes of making “the jump” to getting closer to double-digit sacks. His work ethic and high motor have made him a fan favorite and of course there was the time when he stepped in as kickoff specialist with no warm-up and nailed a darn good kick down the field.

Warrick Dunn

Best Off-Field Falcon....Ever? (AJC)

The mighty-mite running back is one of the all-time Falcon favorites because of his toughness and tenacity on the field and his great honor and compassion off the field. Even though Dunn wasn’t the fastest back the Falcons ever suited up, he was insanely productive and help lead the way as the Birds were #1 in rushing yards several years in a row. He had over 1,000 yards rushing three years in a row and totaled over 30 TDs while in Atlanta. He certainly wasn’t a breakaway back, but one of the best in the backfield of getting tough and grinding yards. Dunn was the ultimate class act, team leader, and tough player who would always give 100% effort.

Alge Crumpler 

One of the best and most reliable tight ends in Falcons history. Crumpler always was the guy to come up with the big catch, the big run, or a huge touchdown just when the Birds needed it the most. He was deceptively fast and almost never dropped a pass that hit him in the hands. He could run over little defensive backs or carry several on his back to cross the goal line. It was easy to see why Crumpler was Michael Vick’s absolute favorite target. He was Mr. Clutch and could come up with needed production in the aerial attack when the receivers couldn’t get the job done or the running game had stalled. Crumpler played for many seasons in Atlanta and was a fan favorite due to his production and superb personality on and off the field.

Jamal Anderson

The True Dirty Bird (AJC)

Mr. Dirty Bird himself defined a team all on his own as much as any in NFL history. Anderson pretty much single-handedly carried the Falcons to the Super Bowl and had amazing durability after Dan Reeves rode him into the ground. Anderson had no problem taking the ball over and over and over, even if it meant detriment to his own body in the end. He carried the offense and the franchise on his back all the way to the Super Bowl and defined an era all on his own with the “Dirty Bird.” May be a candidate for the real Ring of Honor because of his dedication to the Falcons team and organization. Defined selflessness as much or more than any other Falcon in history.

Make your favorite list however you like. You can put your most productive players, your best players, or who you thought were the coolest Falcons. In other words, this list is all about you. You can justify them with stats and production, but you don’t necessarily have to. Enjoy!




Your Turn

  1. Who’s your Favorite Falcons of all-time?
  2. Why are they your Favorite Falcons?
  3. Do you have favorite players separate from best?
  4. Does one era of Falcons football have more favorites than others?
  5. What criteria are you using for your favorites?
  6. Who’s your all-time favorite Falcon?
  7. What old-school Falcons are your favorites?
  8. Which current players are your favorites?

195 comments Add your comment


May 31st, 2011
6:22 pm


May 31st, 2011
6:24 pm

No Jesse Tuggle? For shame.


May 31st, 2011
6:38 pm

Yep, all Scott Case had to do to get to the ProBowl one time (1988) was lead the NFL in interceptions with 10. He was fun to watch…..wish I could find some videos of his hits on receivers.


May 31st, 2011
6:38 pm

I intentionally chose different players from the Ring of Honor post……….

You certainly can include some of the same from your Ring of Honor, but for purposes of variety, The Bird Cage list different players from that post


May 31st, 2011
6:46 pm

Tommy Nobis? Steve Bartkowski? Jesse Tuggle? Mike Kenn? William Andrews? Claude Humphrey? Jeff Van Note?

Ridiculous not to mention those names.

That said, Matty Ice has earned it by far in my opinion. No one in team history had the pressure to succeed that Matt Ryan had placed on his shoulders. All he has done since is succeed. Matt Ryan will be the greatest Falcon in history.

Paddy O

May 31st, 2011
7:07 pm

My favorite would probably be Bartkowski.


May 31st, 2011
7:08 pm

Very good list. I agree with every one of them. MV7 was the most dynamic Falcon to ever suit up. However I couldn’t be happier with our current QB or the fact that MV is making the most of his second chance.

Paddy O

May 31st, 2011
7:11 pm

posted this on last entry, a little late apparently. Where does Ryan rank in today’s NFL vs. other QB’s? I’d rank him #6 in the league:
Manning, P
Manning, E


May 31st, 2011
7:36 pm

Steve Bart is my favorite, if he would have had a good O-Line his whole career and a better owner he would own most of the QB records in the NFL. William Andrews was one hell of a runner, he could run around or over, most of the time over. Bart, Andrews, Jenkins at #3 and a non-conservative coach would have led us to the SB in 80. Scott Case is my #4 favorite, the man could play and he could damn sure hit!!! Matt Ryan is my favorite player of today. As Paddy O has said many times, he does remind me of Staubach. Being a Cowboy fan as a kid, Roger was the man.

Reid Adair

May 31st, 2011
8:11 pm

Some would match my Ring of Honor list, and a couple wouldn’t …

Jamal Anderson is far and away my all-time favorite. His interaction with the fans and the public, even do this day, is phenomenal. I don’t believe there have been many (if any) better “fan-friendly” players in the organization’s history than Anderson.

My others? Warrick Dunn (what he did on the field and in the community), Steve Bartkowski, Coy Wire, Jeff Van Note

I must confess I would never consider Michael Vick for this list. I certainly understand that his on-the-field performance was nearly highlight material every game, but I will never forgive him for lying to Arthur Blank, the city of Atlanta and Falcons fans across the country. What he had done was bad enough; if he had owned up to it and asked forgiveness then, my reaction would be entirely different.

Sorry. I’m off the soap box now.


May 31st, 2011
8:31 pm

Reid Adair, I totally agree with your last paragraph. Everything was in MV’s hands, he chose his path.


May 31st, 2011
8:43 pm

Reid, I have to agree on the Vick decision. I know this post is “no holes barred” but there’s more than athletic ability involved in a football “team.” That’s why TD is so picky about his total player philosophy. I kinda feel the same way about Brooking and D Sanders. We have had a lot of total players in the past that gave everything they had to give. They played the game to win as a team and I believe my list would be way over ten. I suppose, it being so close to Memorial Day, my feeling are based on more patroitism, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”


May 31st, 2011
9:15 pm

JB, I agree with you on way more than 10. Joel Williams, Buddy Curry, Al Richardson, Wallace Francis, Alfred Jackson and Lynn Cain. I think they were all part of the 80 team.


May 31st, 2011
9:26 pm

Didn’t mean to run everyone off. Later Cagers.

Steven A.

May 31st, 2011
9:38 pm

#21 Deon “PRIMTIME ” Sanders..Hands down greatest Falcon of All time!


May 31st, 2011
9:42 pm

I’m only 22 so A lot of those players I obviously never saw play. For me I’d have to say Jamal Anderson, Warrick Dunn, and Roddy White. I was one of the few who was sticking behind Roddy back when he was underperforming. Kerney was another guy I really liked too… that it all


May 31st, 2011
9:42 pm


May 31st, 2011
9:50 pm

Cannonball Butler, Paul Flatley, Ken Burrow, Don Hansen, Ironhead Hayward, Bart, Don Hampton, William A. and L. Cain, M. Kenn, Van Note, Kuykendall, Don Smith, Rick Bryan, Jumpy Geathers… well, that’s a start anyway…

Falconfan 2986

May 31st, 2011
9:51 pm

1. Jeff Van Note
2.Steve Bartkowski
3.Alfred Jenkins
4.Tim Mazetti
5.Scott Case
6.William Andrews
7.Matt Ryan
8.Claude Humphreys
9.Morten Anderson
10.Fulton Kuyendall

Bird Droppings

May 31st, 2011
9:58 pm

Tom Pridemore, Kenny Johnson,Junior Miller,Brett Favre,Dave Archer,Alfred Jackson, Wallace Francis,Jeff George, Matt Ryan,and the only quarterback to lead the Falcons to the Super Bowl.


May 31st, 2011
10:04 pm

Yeah…lots of guys not on the list that need the nood. No Tommy Nobis? Claude Humphrey…one of the greatest DE of all time in my book. Capt crazy Kuyendall. The Zooker. The “bartender” Tim Mazetti who single handed or should I say footed, kicked what…4 field goals to beat the Eagles in Fulton County Stadium to win first ever play off game. The late Iron head Heyward…the name says it all. Anderson was awesome! The Hammer is not there? Jesse Tuggle…come on give me a break. Jenkins was special. No Prime Time? Wow…amazing. Ryan will be in the Hall most likely one day. Jeff Van Note…yea baby! Lots of honorable mention as well.


May 31st, 2011
10:05 pm

As a Falcon, bird droppings = Jeff George and Brett Favre. Brett said it himself.


May 31st, 2011
10:06 pm

Michael Vick, Warrick Dunn, Matt Ryan, Roddy White….in that order.

what a wonderful franchise

May 31st, 2011
10:15 pm


Every other QB we have had is a clown. Admit it you miss the rifleman!


May 31st, 2011
10:17 pm

1) Steve Brousard
2) Wade Wilson
3) Charles Dimry
4) Eugene Robinson
5) Joey Harrington
6) Bobby Petrino

THank you

Hayesville is real

May 31st, 2011
10:32 pm

Hands down, Tommy Nobis.
All-American at Texas
#1 pick in 1966 by both the NFL and AFL
All-Pro MLB for the Falcons
Played hurt. Played hard. Played fair.
A true gentleman.


May 31st, 2011
10:56 pm

You say Falcons, you have to say Tommy Nobis. Then, Keith Brooking. Followed by, in no particular order: Bob Lee, Scott Case and Tom Pridemoreoh. And, I’d throw in Coach Van Brocklin.

Guess you can tell, I am Old School.

Calvin G. Sims, Sr.

May 31st, 2011
11:03 pm

Deon Sanders, Kenny Johnson, Patrick Kearney, Roddy White, Alfred Jenkins, Scott Case, Bret Grimes, Chuck Smith, Steve Bartkowski, Joel Williams

tommy nobis

May 31st, 2011
11:23 pm

tommy nobis, jeff van note, steve bartkowski, mike kenn, willam andrews, claude humphrey, john zook, deon sanders, jr. miller, scott case

just me

May 31st, 2011
11:35 pm

I’m just waiting fo rsomeone to say that their all time favorite falcon is Brett Favre. Who did we get in the trade for him?


May 31st, 2011
11:49 pm

Its got to be Lester Arshambu!!! We traded some back up Qb for this great DT…got to love him.


May 31st, 2011
11:51 pm

wait a minute…GOLDBURG!!!! Dang i almost forgot the most famous dirty bird Goldburg!!!


May 31st, 2011
11:52 pm

1) Bartkowski
2) Kenn
3) Mathis
4) Andrews
5) Van Note
6) Deion
7) Curry (Buddy)
8) Case
9) Ryan
10) Riggs


May 31st, 2011
11:55 pm

Neon Deon Sanders, Jamal “Dirty Bird” Anderson, Keith Brooking, Brett “We Hardly Knew Ya” Favre, Steve Bartkowski, Jeff Van Note (Because he’s still here), Morten Anderson, Michael Vick (Then a favorite, not now), Alge Crumpler, and NOW Matt Ryan.


May 31st, 2011
11:59 pm

1) Bartkowski
5)Van Note
7)Iron Head
11) The whole 1980 team


June 1st, 2011
12:04 am

How many games did Brett ever play? YOu can’t count him


June 1st, 2011
12:06 am

What about Chucky Smith?


June 1st, 2011
12:08 am

Just me we got Rison and Chris Hinton

Falcon Fan for 46 years

June 1st, 2011
12:09 am

Tommy Nobis, William Andrews, Roddy White, Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Steve Bartkowski, Gerald Riggs, Lynn Cain, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Jamal Anderson. Man, there’s a bunch more…


June 1st, 2011
12:09 am

NWO You forgot Cotton and Bruce with that list oooh and Tony Smith

just me

June 1st, 2011
12:16 am

I thought we traded him to GB for their 19th overall pick in the 92 draft and drafted Tony Smith from Southern Miss. after trading back two spots.

Favre did play 4 snaps for Atlanta throwing two picks and being sacked for an eleven yard loss.


June 1st, 2011
12:33 am

1. Jesse Tuggle
2. William Andrews
3. Gerald Riggs
4. Chuck Smith
5. Deon Sanders
6. White Shoes
7. Bart
8. Brian Jordan
9. Dirty Bird Master
10. Mike Kenn
Of course The Legend Tommy Nobis


June 1st, 2011
12:35 am

this is tough because i loved so many over the years but here goes:

1. jesse tuggle: hard-nosed as they come and truly wanted to win so bad! loved his heart.
2. steve bartkowski: loved watching him throw the bombs to jenkins, jackson, frances, miller, etc.
3. deion sanders: loved him during his early yrs. in atlanta–not so much his last few here. my motto on him ended up being, “we could win five games with him or five without him.”
4. tim mckyer: a lot of fans hated him but i liked him a lot. i met him at training camp in sewanee in ‘91 and told him i hated him as a niner and he fired back, “you’re going to love me now.” and he was right–what a secondary he, deion, case and jordan made that season!
5.michael haynes: man could he fly–witnessed his gw td catch in the wildcard playoff game in n.orleans. can still hear the radio replay–haynes, haynes, haynes…touchdown michael haynes.
6. chris miller: he took a lot of flack here but when healthy was so good in the run and shoot.
7. jamal anderson: funny how a stud running back and an opportunistic defense can go a long way!
8. matt ryan: love his make up–he’s very good now and still has room for improvement.
9. william andrews: his power was so amazing–that screen pass against denver or maybe it was san fran–can’t remember but he absolutely killed someone en route to a long td reception.
10. jeff george: people bashed and bashed this guy–but he’ll always be one of my favorites. met him in st. louis before a thursday night game with the rams. he took a lot of time to talk to me and my mom when he didn’t have to–great arm and could really thread the needle. i always thought if he had a little more touch on his deep ball he would have been unstoppable.

best of the rest: vick, riggs, buddy curry, fralic, terrance mathis, rison, bob christian, chris chandler–soley for his performance against the vikings in the championship and last but not least–morten anderson.


Big Daddy

June 1st, 2011
1:27 am

I know you will think I am crazy but two guys who come to mind are
1. Billy Rickman- he could catch anything. Only played 3 years but a tough guy. 2. Reggie Smith- 5′6 and was an exciting when he touched the ball.


June 1st, 2011
1:37 am

Yeah I’m still around. I won’t say he’s one the best, or even one of my fav’s, But Chris Chandler has to have a huge tip O’ the hat. Even I called him Christal Chandelier,..but in reality, that QB was a beast. You Laugh. Why? He had NO pass block line. NONE. As much as I loved me some Brian Kozlowski, Bob Christian, Jamal Anderson, Terance Mathis doing his beastin’ thing, (And thank gads at the time for Time Dwight) and with Tobeck and et al,..He never had a chance. He got beat up, torn down, sacked, whacked, beat stupid and kicked around. WHY? Because Dan Reeves would have made a team of only TE’s if he could have, and it got Chandler killed. BUT,..that dude got up, played, and probably did better than most any other QB may have done with that obnoxiously foul pass blocking. Can’t hardly blame him for being uptight with the Vick deal. Don’t think an instant he was not laughing his ass off over Vick’s dumb shenanigans. I would have if I were him. Do I think he’s one of the best Falcons QB’s. No..probably not. But most decidedly one of the toughest. And oh yeah,..he played well with what had around him.


June 1st, 2011
1:44 am

uhmm… anyone?!?! KEITH BROOKING!!!! he was the man that held down the falcon D for more that 10 years!!!

Jourdan Scott

June 1st, 2011
2:56 am

Where’s Deion Sanders!!!!


June 1st, 2011
3:03 am

1. d.sanders 2. a.jenkins 3. s.bartkoski 4. c.chandler 5. b.jordan 6. w.dunn 7. a.crumpler 8. j.anderson 9. m.ryan 10.j.tuggle. The reason for Deion #1 is he keep fan on there feet in every stadium he played home and he is going in the hall this year. bart will be there with tuggle and matty-ice. yes fans falcons players will get more respect as the days go by.


June 1st, 2011
3:18 am

Brooking? Most over rated & over paid Falcon ever. Name a single impact play by this poser over a long career. I am waiting.

Allow me to be the first to mention the immortal Jim Mitchell. That was an underappreciated warrior.

Ben Gunby

June 1st, 2011
4:28 am

Making 120 plus tackles constantly is making an impact. I dunno about you, but having a linebacker that consistently makes tackles, and a lot of them, is a pretty nice luxury. As for impact plays, I can name one right off the top of my head from the most important game in franchise history, in his rookie year. Perhaps you don’t remember the absolute sticking of Robert Smith, a play that personified the difference in us and the Vikings, showing how much more physical and tough we were? Funny what people choose to forget to push their own blind agendas.