If you had to build a squad of the best 11 players in Falcons history, who would they be? With World Cup fever in full bloom, that's exactly the question NFL.com writer Adam Rank asked for each NFC South team as he put together an “all-time XI” lineup.
Here is the starting XI Rank would roll out for the Falcons:
- Michael Vick, QB (2001-2006)
- Jessie Tuggle, LB (1987-2000)
- Claude Humphrey, DE (1968-1978)
- Deion Sanders, CB/RS (1989-1993)
- Matt Ryan, QB (2008-present)
- Mike Kenn, OT (1978-1994)
- Julio Jones, WR (2011-present)
- Tommy Nobis, LB (1966-1976)
- Steve Bartkowski, QB (1975-1985)
- Roddy White, WR (2005-2015)
- William Andrews, RB (1979-1986)
Coach: Dan Quinn (2015-present)
The method behind Rank's choices is a little vague, as any ranking like this is surely subjective, but it's still a notable flex to put Vick at the top. To be sure, Vick's time in Atlanta brought some of the most exciting memories for Falcons fans, and he was a game-changing superstar, but his career success does not stack up against some others on this list. In Rank's explanation of his choice, his thought process in facing this dilemma becomes clearer.
"Michael Vick is difficult to contextualize in Falcons history because he's polarizing for a number of reasons," Rank writes. "But his six-year run in Atlanta was amazing. The playoff win at Green Bay. The overtime walk-off against the Vikings. And, of course, "Madden '04." He's the reason why there are so many Falcons fans in the world. So, you could either be a flaming star like Nirvana, or be a mediocre band that churns out a bunch of terrible records. Like Nickelback. Seriously, Vick or Steve Bartkowski's on-the-field career? Thought so."
The rest of Rank's list is probably along the lines of a consensus. It's also notable that two current Falcons players – Matt Ryan and Julio Jones – make the cut, as well as head coach Dan Quinn, which Rank says should be taken more as a nod to having two all-time greats currently playing for the team as a slight at the level of past talent that has played for the franchise.