There's been a lot of talent that has graced the halls of the Atlanta Falcons organization, but some stand far above others. While the club has struggled over the course of its history to find and maintain success, it's not been for lack of elite players here and there, but more so because they couldn't piece it all together. Still searching for its first-ever Super Bowl win, the Falcons are entering the 2020 season hoping to finally make the legends of yesterday proud, for there are many.
CBSSports.com's Franchise Five dives into five most impactful people in each NFL's team history. Our rules here bind us to pick just one quarterback, three non-quarterback players and one head coach. Qualifier: Individual must not be a current player in the NFL.
Not everyone can make such a short and exclusive list, but the fun is in the challenge of seeing who's worthy. 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.
Coach Dan Reeves
When you think of the Falcons, you think of Reeves, and for good reason. For the most part, prior to the arrival of Reeves in 1997, the Falcons were on the backburner of teams you'd think about perennially. 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. 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.
They'd eventually be defeated by the Denver Broncos in the Big Game, and Reeves would struggle to find success thereafter but, for once, a Falcons coach had done what none before him could: put the team in position to win it all.
CB Deion Sanders
The world hadn't seen anything like Sanders before. 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. He'd dominate opposing wide receivers and taunt them while doing it. And when he wasn't reeling in interceptions and pick-sixes, he was returning kicks and punts as one of the best to ever do it -- his end zone prances spawning an entire culture of braggadocious players.
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. If you're ever looking for him at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, just look up. He's staring down at you from the Falcons Ring of Honor.
QB Michael Vick
Speaking of talent the world had never before seen, Vick certainly fits that bill. The Falcons' first-overall pick in 2001, Vick literally hit the ground running. He was a phenom as both a passer and a runner, with a cannon for an arm -- an accurate one, at that -- and speed that surpassed many of the top wide receivers in the sport. If he chose to run, you were toast. If he chose to throw, you were toast. The general theme of Vick's career is that no matter what you did, you had already lost. This couldn't have been more on display in his historic run in overtime to lift the Falcons over the Minnesota Vikings in the 2002 playoffs.
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.
WR Roddy White
For a time, White was one of Vick's most prevalent weapons, and he went on to have a prolific career of his own even after Vick and the Falcons initially parted ways. 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. Before it was all said and done, White finished his career having grabbed 808 passes for 10,863 yards and 63 touchdowns.
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.
LB Jessie Tuggle
It's odd how many outside of the Falcons organization and fandom speak very little of Tuggle, considering what he meant to the franchise and what he did between the lines. A Georgia guy through-and-through, Tuggle was born in Griffin, Georgia before going on to attend Valdosta State and clawing his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent of the Falcons in 1987. As unheralded as any at the time, 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. His name still rings bells in North Georgia, and that's not too shabby for a guy who didn't hear his name called in the draft.
Tony Gonzalez - 2009-13
Morten Andersen - 1995-2000, 2006-07
Warrick Dunn - 2002-07
It's inarguable what both Gonzalez and Andersen meant to the organization. The former was the premier tight end in Atlanta after joining the club 2009, and became one of Matt Ryan's favorite and most productive targets. Andersen is a legend in his own right, joining Gonzalez in having a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame but also in the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame -- returning to North Georgia to finish out his career as one of the best kickers in NFL history. The only reason Gonzalez missed the cut is because he was a Hall of Famer for the Kansas City Chiefs before he ever caught a pass in Atlanta, and it's impossible to squeeze in Andersen over Tuggle or White.
The same goes for Dunn, a Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient whose name is etched in the team's Ring of Honor, but when comparing the on-the-field impact of Dunn to the Franchise Five, he finishes just out of the running. That said, it's impossible to not mention this trio as the first three out.
They've definitely earned that much.