Alumni Corner: Ray Buchanan

In the 1998 season, the Atlanta Falcons took on the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship game, a game that came down to one last field goal by Falcons' kicker Morten Andersen in overtime giving the team a 30-27 victory.

Earlier in the season, as part of the NFL's Legends initiative, former Atlanta Falcons players had an opportunity to reunite at a reception before the Thursday Night Football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The anticipated reunion provided a chance to catch up with some of the best players in franchise history, including former cornerback Ray Buchanan.

If asked to recall some of the more memorable players from the 1998 NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons, cornerback Ray Buchanan is likely to be on the list. Following his first year with the team in 1997, Buchanan helped spur the team's defense during its remarkable run to Super Bowl XXXIII.

His seven interceptions that season earned him the privilege of joining five other Falcons players in the Pro Bowl (Jamal Anderson, Chris Chandler, Eugene Robinson, Jessie Tuggle and Bob Whitfield).

"Playing in that 1998 NFC Championship Game, winning that and knowing we were going to the Super Bowl is the biggest memory that will stick with me forever," Buchanan said. "Playing my part, everybody had to play a role, and the chemistry that we had was truly special."

Two years after that unforgettable season, Buchanan recorded six interceptions and two fumble recoveries, earning the team's Player of the Year Award in 2000. In all, he spent seven seasons in Atlanta (1997-2003). Before joining the Falcons, Buchanan played four years with the Indianapolis Colts (1993-1996). At age 33, he spent his final NFL season in Oakland, before retiring in 2004. 

As part of the NFL's Legends initiative, former Atlanta Falcons players had an opportunity to attend a reception before the Thursday Night Football game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Although no longer lacing up the cleats, Buchanan began using some of his other talents to stay around the game of football, offering opinions and analysis.

"I jumped right into media," Buchanan said. "Everybody sort of knew I was going to get involved in television with some of the gimmicks I portrayed sometimes on the field. I started out with NFL Network and then worked with ESPN and did some more local things last year. I have also enjoyed helping defensive backs train for the NFL Combine"

As for Buchanan's analysis skills, we put them to the test by asking for his thoughts on the 2014 Falcons.

"People are really looking at Matt Ryan since he's taken the leadership role and trying to compare him with Drew Brees and Peyton Manning," Buchanan said. "I think he will hold his own as long as he doesn't lose his identity and just goes out there and plays ball and doesn't worry about those things. The defense needs to step its game up. I always say defense wins championships."

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