The Fans' Favorite Falcon series, presented by Ford, continues with this first Final Four matchup.
How do you decide between No. 1 Jessie Tuggle vs. No. 4 Steve Bartkowski?
Tuggle came to the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 1987 and is now widely recognized as one of the greatest to ever wear the Falcons' uniform. Aptly nicknamed "The Hammer" for his bone-jarring hits, Tuggle finished his career after the 2000 season, logging 14 seasons with the Falcons and an all-time franchise record 2,065 tackles and 12-straight 100-tackle seasons. With five Pro Bowl appearances during his career, Tuggle has always been recognized as a favorite among fans. Quiet and reserved, Tuggle provided the perfect balance to some of his other teammates who thrived on individual attention. Tuggle easily earned the No. 1 seed for his style of play, his back story of being an undrafted rookie and for being the type of player that has resonated with the fanbase even years after he retired.
If there's a record for it in Falcons lore, chances are, Steve Bartkowski owns it. The definitive quarterback of the Falcons in the late '70s and early '80s, Bartkowski still holds the Falcons record for all-time passer. By a lot. He threw for 23,470 yards in his career and there's no one within 6,000 yards of him. Bartkowski is a favorite for a lot of reasons, namely for securing more than 50 victories during his Falcons career and guiding the team to its first playoff victory in franchise history in 1978. It's not uncommon to walk through the Georgia Dome today and see a slew of Bartkowski jerseys among the crowd.
This is where things get really difficult. Two Falcons icons and two very different Falcons eras clash here. On Tuggle's side, you've got a hard-hitting, no-nonsense, underdog-makes-good player who went from undrafted afterthought to legend during his career. On Bartkowski's side, you've got the greatest quarterback to ever suit up for the Falcons. How do you even begin to breakdown the pluses on each side? This one all comes down to personal preference and which era you identify most with. One thing is for sure, this matchup will be close and either player deserves to move on.