Not every NFL franchise has one specific player designated as its face by name but that was the case with Tommy Nobis and the Atlanta Falcons. The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker was designated as “Mr. Falcon” as a result of his selection as the No. 1 overall pick in the 1966 NFL Draft and, because he was technically the first player ever to be employed by the franchise, the name stuck. Unfortunately, the Falcons announced on Wednesday that Nobis is no longer with us, as he passed away at the age of 74.
Within the announcement was the following statement from Falcons owner and chairman Arthur Blank:
“On behalf of the Atlanta Falcons we extend our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the great Tommy Nobis. Tommy’s legacy began as the first Falcons player in team history, was built over 40 years with the organization and will live on for years to come in our Ring of Honor. ‘Mr. Falcon’ is rightfully beloved by generations of Falcons fans and we will always be grateful for his many contributions to our team and community.”
In addition to his obvious ties as the first player with the franchise, Nobis never donned the uniform of another NFL team, spending more than a decade in Atlanta before retiring in 1976. He is one of the handful of former players recognized in the team’s “Ring Of Honor” at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and, in short, Nobis is beloved in the football community.
The knowledge of his passinig certainly comes with great sadness but Nobis will be long remembered for his contributions to both the Falcons and the league.