Atlanta Falcons' Mount Rushmore: Who Should Really Be On It?
Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio put together his own Atlanta Falcons Mount Rushmore. And in doing so, he listed three guys who would be on the fringe of being on it—but aren't quite there yet—and one who should never sniff it.
His final product was Matt Ryan, Roddy White, Jamal Anderson and Michael Vick. Florio, please don't ever do one of these for the Falcons again. You have absolutely no clue about the history of the franchise if this is what your Falcons Mount Rushmore would look like.
First of all, putting Vick on there in the first place is a travesty, but I will get to that later. Secondly, how do you leave off "Mr. Falcon" Tommy Nobis from the voting all together?
Thirdly, let me do the rundown on who the Falcons should have on their own Mount Rushmore. From the view of someone who knows the Falcons, here is how the fans and organization would determine who truly belongs on it instead of the four players who wound up on it.
Is There a Coach Who Qualifies?
If there were any coaches who would qualify, it would have to be either Dan Reeves or Mike Smith. Each one has led the Falcons to greater heights and multiple seasons in the playoffs.
Reeves was the Falcons head coach for seven seasons, and led the Falcons to a pair of playoff appearances and the Falcons only Super Bowl appearance. The downfall of Reeves is his 49-59-1 record and the fact that his two playoff appearances were the only winning seasons he had in Atlanta.
Smith, on the other hand, has been the Falcons head coach for the past five years and is entering his sixth. He has led the Falcons to a 56-24 record as a head coach and four playoff appearances. This includes the Falcons hosting their first ever conference championship game in 2012.
While there aren't any Super Bowl appearances on Smith's resume and his record is 1-4 in the playoffs, the Falcons are set up for the future with him as the head coach. Hopefully he doesn't end up as the next Tony Dungy with Atlanta and is "always a bridesmaid" with the talent here.
Players Who Qualify
For something like this, the only players who should qualify are current and future Ring of Honor members. Guys like Roddy White, Matt Ryan and Julio Jones would all be excellent additions, but for now, we'll stick with the current Ring of Honor to select the players from.
Running Back William Andrews
Known as a true hammer in the backfield, Andrews was the Falcons' leading rusher for four of his first five seasons. Outside of his final season at age 31, Andrews put up great numbers and had a great career for the Falcons.
Quarterback Steve Bartkowski
Injuries and a poor offensive line hurt the Falcons' best quarterback before the Matt Ryan era from having a Hall of Fame career. Bartkowski led Atlanta to multiple winning seasons in an era when he didn't have a team around him good enough to do so.
Linebacker Tommy Nobis
Tommy Nobis was the first player drafted for the Falcons and had one of the best careers of any Falcon linebacker. Nobis was so instrumental to the franchise that he was dubbed "Mr. Falcon" by fans and analysts all over.
Linebacker Jessie Tuggle
Jessie Tuggle is the Falcons' best linebacker outside of Tommy Nobis. He started for the team for 12 straight seasons at the Mike position in both the 3-4 and the 4-3. He wound up in five Pro Bowls and had the Falcons been a better team, he would be in the Hall of Fame.
Center Jeff Van Note
Van Note played for the Falcons for 18 straight seasons. He never wavered in his loyalty to the franchise. Of the 246 games that he played, he started 226 of them—missing only four starts before becoming a backup his final season.
Offensive Tackle Mike Kenn
Mike Kenn is the left tackle version of Jeff Van Note. He started for 17 straight seasons. He played in 251 games and started in all of them. Kenn was a five-time Pro Bowl player and was essentially one of the best offensive tackles of his generation.
Defensive End Claude Humphrey
Humphrey played 10 seasons for the Falcons and was one of the most feared pass-rushers of his era. Had the sack been an official stat at the time, he would have possibly topped the century mark in that stat in just his time in Atlanta.
Cornerback Deion Sanders
Arguably the best cornerback of all time, Deion Sanders deserves to be in the Ring of Honor for being the Falcons' only Hall of Fame player who spent the majority of his career with the team. Unfortunately, for the Mount Rushmore of the Falcons, he wouldn't be eligible.
Does Arthur Blank Deserve a Spot?
Let's put it this way. To say that Arthur Blank doesn't deserve a spot would be misguided.
After the franchise started off 212-327-5 in its first 36 seasons under the Smith family, it has gone 100-75-1 under Blank's guidance. Under his careful watch, the Falcons have brought in Rich McKay, Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith to run the team.
A careful businessman at heart, Blank has turned the Falcons into a team that any owner would be more than proud to own. The Falcons are a team that isn't just something fans will root for but something that gives back to the community with the charities it partakes in.
He deserves to be featured on the Falcons' Mount Rushmore for turning the Falcons from something Atlanta residents were ashamed of and turning them into something the city is more than proud of.
Don't Even Think About It
There are a few people and players who don't deserve to ever be on the Falcons monument. The transgressions by these players and coaches are completely unforgivable. They may have had solid careers in the red and black, but they don't deserve to be on the Mount Rushmore.
The first of whom is Michael Vick. Despite a career as the Falcons quarterback, where he brought not just relevance but could have been the catalyst for the modern success the franchise has seen, he got arrested and served time in prison for a dog-fighting ring. He also never gave his all for the Falcons, and it showed on the field.
After him, Bobby Petrino should never even be close. With his cowardice in the 2007 season, the Falcons would have never been able to bring in Mike Smith. However, he doesn't deserve to take any credit for being a jerk.
The Falcons' Mount Rushmore will never have either of those two. You could also include Eugene Robinson or even lesser criminals like Juran Bolden. They weren't bad to the point of completely disowning them, but they don't belong on the Mount Rushmore.
"Mr. Falcon" Tommy Nobis is the best representative for the Falcons' past and initial history. He's the first Falcon ever drafted and a current Ring of Honor member. There's no reason to leave him off of the monument or take him off of the primary spot on it.
Continuing in the tradition of Falcons who should be in the Hall of Fame, Jeff Van Note is the next player for the Falcons' Mount Rushmore. His run as the Falcons starting center for 17 straight years and multiple Pro Bowls make him worthy of this honor.
Current Falcons owner Arthur Blank is definitely going to be on it. His impact on the franchise is more than enough to make him worthy of a prime spot. He has turned the Falcons into a regular contender by putting football people in football positions and not being Jerry Jones out there.
And finally, the legendary Jessie Tuggle has earned a spot. The Falcons have always been known as a team with a Pro Bowl caliber linebacker. Tuggle only continued in this tradition and more than belongs here.
With the final result being something Falcons fans could all agree with, this is obviously a more accurate Mount Rushmore for the organization than the one thought up by Pro Football Talk.
*All stats used are either from Pro Football Focus's Premium Stats, ESPN, CFBStats or the NFL. All contract information is courtesy Spotrac. All recruiting rankings come from 247Sports.com.
Scott Carasik is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He covers the Atlanta Falcons, NFL and NFL Draft. He also runs DraftFalcons.com.
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