In case you've missed it, CBSSports.com has been running a series called the Franchise Five, which spotlights a handful of the "most impactful people in each NFL's team history."
When I first saw the five names chosen for the Falcons, I was somewhat surprised until I read the piece and the criteria for the selections. Each Franchise Five must include one quarterback, three non-quarterbacks and one head coach. Oh yeah, and then there's this qualifier: "Individual must not be a current player in the NFL."
That qualifier explained a lot. A least for me, anyway.
"Several names immediately crop up when dwindling this list down for the Falcons, but five in particular are basically untouchable, in my opinion, when discussing their impact to the organization and the NFL as a whole," Patrik Walker of CBSSports.com writes.
So, who were the five "basically untouchable" names Walker came up with? Deion Sanders, Michael Vick, Roddy White, Jessie Tuggle and Dan Reeves.
Whether you agree or not, Walker makes a pretty strong case for the selections. Here is a portion of he wrote on each.
"Taking on the moniker of 'Prime Time' on the back end of his collegiate career at Florida State, the Hall of Fame cornerback created a brand that was as beaming as was his play on the field. Sanders was an absolute force of nature right out of the gate, and he wasn't shy about it in the least. … Sanders landed several Pro Bowl and All-Pro nods with the Falcons before leaving in free agency and winning championships elsewhere, but his footprint in Atlanta will never erode."
"The most electric talent the NFL had ever seen, Vick set records that are just now being touched by players like league MVP Lamar Jackson, and you can guess who Jackson mirrored his game after as a child. So while Vick's time with the Falcons ended in controversy, he's since retired as a Falcon and walks the city as a living legend. The league was never the same after him."
"A four-time Pro Bowl receiver and former first-team All-Pro, White blazed the very trail Julio Jones is walking now. As the NFL leader in receptions in 2010, he was key in helping Matt Ryan quickly acclimate to the ranks of the NFL, and the two formed a dangerous offensive tandem in their time together. ... He joins a select few who have ascended to the team's Ring of Honor, and rightfully so. For when the Falcons needed a big play, they could always count on White to deliver."
"Tuggle fought his way into a starting role and into five Pro Bowl nods and the team's Ring of Honor. The Falcons retired his No. 58 jersey, much the same way as Valdosta State did, and he's currently in the College Football Hall of Fame with a potential nod to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his future. Tuggle was a defensive force at a time when there wasn't much to cheer for in Atlanta, racking up 1,809 tackles in his career and rattling jaws with each one."
Coach Dan Reeves
"The team hadn't been to a conference championship game in the history of the franchise, and often muddled between third and fourth place in their division," Walker writes. "Reeves arrived and immediately changed the culture of the Falcons, his hard-nosed but player-friendly style of coaching helping to propel Atlanta from a 3-13 start the year prior to a 14-2 finish and appearance in Super Bowl XXXIII only one year after his hiring – with Chris Chandler at quarterback, no less."