Jeff Van Note
1969 - 1986 (18 Seasons)
246 Games Played
5 Pro Bowls
Jeffrey Aloysius Van Note was an 11th-round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 1969. He was the 262nd player picked overall. Van Note would go on to play his entire 18-year NFL career as a center for the Atlanta Falcons from 1969 to 1986.
After beginning his college career as a fullback, Van Note then moved to defensive end at the University of Kentucky. Van Note earned second-team All-SEC honors in his sophomore year. He was named Kentucky's team MVP his senior year. He was drafted as a linebacker.
Van Note was soon moved to center by the Falcons' head coach Norm Van Brocklin. Van Note eventually became an upper-echelon center in the NFL. His 18 NFL years is amongst the top 25 longest careers in NFL history and is the second-longest career with the same team. He played in 246 games over this stretch, and his 225 games started is second in Falcons history. Van Note only missed four games in his entire NFL career.
The Falcons retired Van Note's number at halftime of his final home game. He was voted the franchise's favorite player during the Falcons' 25th Anniversary season in 1991 by fans. Van Note was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame, and the Falcons' Ring of Honor.
Jeff Van Note played in an era full of excellent centers in the NFC: Tom Banks, Rich Saul, Len Hauss, Forrest Blue, Ed Flanagan, Mick Tingelhoff, Jay Hilgenberg, and Doug C. Smith were all multiple Pro Bowl honorees during Van Note's era.
Jeff made three straight Pro Bowls from ages 34 to 36. He was an athletic, strong, and technically sound player. He languished on some bad teams, but he was one of the players that the Falcons could rely on week in and week out. His name was constantly bandied about as one of the NFL's top centers during his career. His status as a fan favorite exemplifies this.
Many great offensive lineman languish in anonymity. The Falcons had flashy players like Tommy Nobis, "White Shoes" Johnson, and Steve Bartkowski, but Van Note is the guy most Falcon fans say symbolizes the franchise's best. He may not be the greatest center who has ever played, but he is certainly amongst those mentioned as one of the greats. Jeff Van Note should be inducted into Canton.
Notable Players Drafted In 1969 *Denotes Canton Inductee
1. O.J. Simpson, RB, Buffalo *
4. Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh *
7. Ted Kwalick, TE, San Francisco
11. Bill Stanfill, DE, Miami
13. Fred Dryer, DE, NY Giants
16. Gene Washington, WR, San Francisco
19. Roger Wehrli, CB, St. Louis Cardinals *
20. Ron Johnson, RB, Cleveland
24. Calvin Hill, RB, Dallas
31. Bill Bergey, LB, Cincinnati
33. Ted Hendricks, LB, Baltimore *
39. Ed White, OG, Minnesota
41. Bobby Douglass, QB, Chicago
48. Ed Podolak, RB, Kansas City
56. Jon Kolb, C, Pittsburgh
63. Eugene "Mercury" Morris, RB, Miami
69. Bill Bradley, S, Philadelphia
80. Bob Kuechenberg, OG, Philadelphia
93. Charlie Joiner, WR, Houston *
96. Roy Gerela, P, Houston
99. John Zook, DE, LA Rams
101. Jack Rudnay, C, Kansas City
135. Ken Riley, QB, Cincinnati
139. Harold McLinton, LB, Washington
238. L.C. Greenwood, DE, Pittsburgh
273. John Fuqua, RB, NY Giants
337. Carl Mauck, LB, Baltimore
338. Steve O'Neal, P, NY Jets