The Atlanta Falcons organization doesn't officially retire jersey numbers, but considers certain player's jerseys worthy of being honored. Currently, the Falcons do not use any of the jersey numbers honored below. The Falcons Ring of Honor, which is featured in the rafters of the Georgia Dome, honors individual players and not jerseys.
2004 Inaugural Class
A third-round pick, Andrews was among the NFL's elite runners when a shocking knee injury prematurely ended his career. He became just the 318 second running back in NFL history to have two 2,000-yard (combined yards) seasons (the only other player prior to Williams was O.J. Simpson). When he had his first 2,000-yard year, he joined just four other backs who had done so (Jim Brown, Walter Payton, Wilbert Montgomery and Simpson). In his first five seasons in the NFL (1979–83), Andrews outgained every other back in the entire NFL. The bullish Andrews had 8,382 total yards in those five years (an average of 1,677 per year) to lead all NFL runners. Andrews set 19 Falcons club records that began in his very first NFL game in 1979 when he ran for 167 yards in a game at New Orleans where he totaled 189 yards. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983 and made the NFL All-Rookie team in 1979. He retired in 1987.
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 1975, he was named the NFL's Rookie of the Year after throwing for 1,662 yards and 15 touchdowns. He set every team record in passing, which included 23,468 career yards and 154 touchdown passes in 123 games. He produced three seasons of 3,000 yards or more passing, 12 games of more than 300 yards passing and two seasons of 30 or more touchdown passes. Bartkowski collected over 50 victories as a starting quarterback for the Falcons and guided the team to their first playoff victory in franchise history over the Philadelphia Eagles in 1978.
The first–ever player drafted by the Atlanta Falcons for the inaugural 1966 season, Nobis quickly became the first–ever Falcons player to be voted to the Pro Bowl after being selected as a rookie. The stellar middle linebacker was named the NFL Rookie of the Year for his efforts. "Mr. Falcon" led the team in tackles in nine of his 11 seasons, while earning five trips to the Pro Bowl. In a poll conducted in 1970 by ABC to pick the best athlete of the decade of the 1960s, running back O.J. Simpson was number one and Tommy Nobis was number two in the entire country. He had an astronomical 294 total combined tackles as a rookie, still the team's club record. Nobis also intercepted 11 passes during his pro career, returning two for touchdowns. His uniform, No. 60, has been worn by only him during the team's existence. He retired in 1976.
Jessie came to the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 1987 and retired in August of 2001 as one of the all-time greatest players in franchise history. Nicknamed, "The Hammer", for his bone- jarring tackles, Tuggle is the club's all-time leader in total tackles with 2,065 and enjoyed 12 straight 100-tackle seasons. He led the team in tackles in a season 10 times and amassed 20 or more tackles in a single-game on four occasions with a personal– best of 24 stops. His 14 seasons played, 189 career starts and 209 total games played are third–most ever in Falcons history. Tuggle's five Pro Bowl appearances (1992, 1995, 1995, 1997, 1998) stand tied for the third-most ever by a Falcons player. The Falcons honored No. 58 with "Jessie Tuggle Day" during halftime of the Falcons game vs. the Detroit Lions on December 22, 2002.
Jeff Van Note
Holds Falcons team marks for most seasons played (18) and most consecutive games played (155). He is second in the team record books with 246 games played and 225 games started. Van Note originally came to the Falcons as a linebacker from Kentucky, but was moved to center by head coach Norm Van Brocklin and eventually earned the starting job at center in 1970. He earned the first of his six Pro Bowl berths in 1974. Van Note is tied with Claude Humphrey for most Pro Bowl appearances by a Falcons player with six. He retired in 1986.
Kenn was a mainstay on the Falcons offensive line aas the Michigan alum holds Falcons records in most games played and started (251) while ranking second in most seasons played with Atlanta (17). Kenn also posted a streak of 94 consecutive games played and earned Pro Bowl selections from 1980-84.
Humphrey was a first round pick by the Falcons in the 1968 NFL Draft and completed his career as the all-time sack leader in franchise history with 94.5. Humphrey also ranks third in Atlanta annals with 15.6 sacks in a single season. He is tied for the franchise lead with six Pro Bowl selections including five straight from 1970-74.
Sanders was a three-time Pro Bowl starter during his Falcons career after being selected as the fifth overall player in the 1989 draft out of Florida State. Considered one of the best pure cornerbacks ever to lace up a pair of cleats, Sanders also doubled as a dangerous return man. He was recently tabbed the 34th best player in the history of the League by a new NFL Films-produced series, The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players. Sanders' Falcons career started in memorable fashion as he returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown in his first NFL game as a rookie against the Los Angeles Rams at Fulton County Stadium. Sanders' All-Rookie season also included him leading all first-year defensive backs with five interceptions and becoming the first Falcons player to ever appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (on Nov. 13, 1989).
During his productive Falcons career from 1989-93, "Prime Time" established 12 club records for such marks as: most interceptions for touchdowns (2), longest punt return (79t yards), most punt return touchdowns (2), most KOR yards (3,063), most KOR touchdowns (3), longest kickoff return (100t), most combined return touchdowns (8), and most combined return yards (3,967), among others. The electrifying Sanders scored a total of 10 touchdowns in a Falcons uniform on five returns, three interceptions, and two receptions.