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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!