Tommy Nobis

Thomas Henry Nobis Jr. (September 20, 1943 – December 13, 2017) was an American football linebacker who played in the National Football League (NFL) for eleven seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. He played college football at the University of Texas and was the first overall selection in the 1966 NFL draft.

Tommy Nobis
No. 60
Position:Linebacker
Personal information
Born:September 20, 1943
San Antonio, Texas
Died:December 13, 2017 (aged 74)
Marietta, Georgia
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:240 lb (109 kg)
Career information
High school:San Antonio (TX) Thomas Jefferson
College:Texas
NFL Draft:1966 / Round: 1 / Pick: 1
AFL draft:1966 / Round: 1 / Pick: 5
Career history
Career highlights and awards
NFL
College
Career NFL statistics
Interceptions:12
Player stats at NFL.com

Early years

Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Nobis played football at Thomas Jefferson High School, where he was an all-state offensive end and middle linebacker for the Mustangs.

College years

Nobis is one of college football's all-time greatest linebackers. In his tenure with the Texas Longhorns (19631965) he averaged nearly 20 tackles a game and, as the only sophomore starter, was an important participant on the Longhorns' 1963 national championship team, which defeated #2 Navy led by Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach in the Cotton Bowl. Nobis was also a member of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity at the university.

Nobis was a two-time All-American and made the All-Southwest Conference team three times. As a junior in the 1965 Orange Bowl, he made one of the most famous tackles in the game's history. On fourth-and-inches, and clinging to a 21–17 lead, Nobis led his teammates to a game-saving halt of top-ranked Alabama’s QB Joe Namath. Nobis was an iron man, playing (and starting) on both defense and offense for his entire college career. Aside from being an All-American linebacker, he also played guard on the offensive side of the ball and was often the primary blocker on touchdown runs.[1] Famed Texas head coach Darrell Royal called him "the finest two-way player I have ever seen." A knee injury slowed him during the latter part of his senior season, but he still was able to perform at a high level and won a number of major individual awards including the Knute Rockne Award, best lineman, the Outland Trophy, best interior lineman, and the Maxwell Award for college football’s best player. Nobis also finished seventh in the Heisman voting to USC's Mike Garrett. He appeared on the covers of LIFE, Sports Illustrated and TIME magazines.

NFL career

In November 1965, Nobis became the first player drafted by the expansion Atlanta Falcons [1] as well as the second linebacker to be chosen first overall when he was taken with the #1 pick in the 1966 NFL draft, held on November 27, 1965. The Houston Oilers also selected him in the AFL draft. This presented a dilemma and also sparked a debate that reached as far as outer space when astronaut Frank Borman, aboard Gemini 7, talked back to earth with the message, "tell Nobis to sign with Houston." (Borman's sons were ball boys for the Oilers.)[2] Nobis instead signed with Atlanta on December 14 and became the first member of the Atlanta Falcons,[3][4] gaining the nickname "Mr. Falcon."[1]

Tommy Nobis joined the Falcons for their inaugural season in 1966. That season, he won the league's NFL Rookie of the Year, was voted to the Pro Bowl and amassed 294 combined tackles which still stands today as the team's all-time single-season record,[1] and is unofficially the most tackles ever credited to one player, in a season, in NFL history. In eleven professional seasons he led the Falcons in tackles nine times, went to five Pro Bowls (one in 1972 after two knee surgeries), was named All-Pro twice and was chosen for the NFL's "All-Decade Team" for the 1960s. Miami Dolphins great, running back Larry Csonka commented, "I'd rather play against Dick Butkus than Nobis," and Falcons coach Norm Van Brocklin once pointed to Nobis' locker and proclaimed, "There's where our football team dresses."

Nobis is a member of the Atlanta Falcons' Ring of Honor and his #60 was the first number retired by the team. No other Falcons player has ever worn the number.[1] In 2005, he was named to the Professional Football Researchers Association Hall of Very Good in the association's third HOVG class.[5]

Nobis enjoyed a successful NFL career that many believe is worthy of Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Former NFL player and coach Dan Reeves, while head coach of the Falcons, remarked, "As a running back for eight seasons in the NFL, I certainly took my share of hits. Unfortunately I remember some of them, particularly the ones from Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis. 'Mr. Falcon,' as he is known in this part of the country, should be considered a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame.” Reeves based his assertion on the fact that while playing in Atlanta, prior to the days of mass media coverage, Nobis was overlooked because of the “Falcons lack of success during his tenure”. He states, “I played and coached on some great teams while I was with Dallas. Those teams consisted of Hall of Fame members like Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach and Tom Landry. I feel that Nobis' contributions on the field merit those of the Cowboys Hall of Fame players.” [1] Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist and Hall of Fame voter Furman Bisher wrote, "There isn't much more one can say about Tommy Nobis. In the glow of a winning team, where he would have been a star on the isolated camera, he would already have been residing in Canton. It's not a Falcons thing, it's a Nobis thing, and here is a man who lives up to all the ideals I would establish for admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame." [1]

After the NFL

Number 60 is also revered at Texas where it was offered only to the best of linebackers. All American Britt Hager wore #60 during his senior season, as did All American Brian Jones. In 2004, another Longhorn All-American linebacker, Derrick Johnson, decided to wear the jersey in his final collegiate home game to honor Nobis.[6] The number has recently joined Earl Campbell's #20, Bobby Layne's #22, Ricky Williams' #34, Vince Young's #10 and Colt McCoy's #12 as UT's only retired numbers.

Tommy Nobis was inducted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1976. He was named to Sports Illustrated ’s All-Century Team (1869–1969) [1] and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the State of Texas Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, and the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. In May 2007, he was inducted as a charter member into the Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Hall of Fame.

Tommy Nobis retired from the Falcons after 40 years as a member of the organization, in the front office and on the field.

Apart from football, Nobis was a co-founder and a Board of Directors member of the Tommy Nobis Center that began in 1976. The mission of the organization is to develop and provide job training, employment, and vocational support for youth and adults with disabilities and other barriers to employment. He won the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. award for his work with the Georgia Special Olympics and has been named the NFL Man of the Year.

Tommy Nobis died on December 13, 2017 at home at age 74, with his wife by his side, after an extended illness.[7] On January 28, 2019 researchers from Boston University confirmed that Nobis had the most severe form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Mr. Falcon". NobisWorks. Retrieved May 4, 2015.
  2. ^ "Astronauts hope Oilers get Nobis". Spartanburg Herald. South Carolina. Associated Press. December 9, 1965. p. 38.
  3. ^ "Falcons sign Tommy Nobis". Nashua Telegraph. New Hampshire. Associated Press. December 14, 1965. p. 12.
  4. ^ "Nobis inks Atlanta Falcons bonus pact". Times-News. Hendersonville, North Carolina. UPI. December 15, 1965. p. 15.
  5. ^ "Hall of Very Good". Retrieved July 14, 2016.
  6. ^ "Derrick Johnson dons No. 60 for final home game". TexasSports.com. November 24, 2004. Retrieved May 5, 2009.
  7. ^ "Tommy Nobis, 'Mr. Falcon,' is dead at 74". ajc.com. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  8. ^ "'Mr. Falcon' Nobis had most severe form of CTE". ESPN.com. 2019-01-29. Retrieved 2019-01-29.

External links

1963 All-Southwest Conference football team

The 1963 All-Southwest Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations for All-Southwest Conference teams for the 1963 college football season. The selectors for the 1963 season included the Associated Press (AP) and the United Press International (UPI). Players selected as first-team players by both the AP and UPI are designated in bold.

1963 Texas Longhorns football team

The 1963 Texas Longhorns football team represented the University of Texas at Austin in the 1963 college football season. The Longhorns won their first national championship. Tommy Nobis was the only sophomore starter, and was an important participant on the Longhorns' 1963 team, which defeated #2 Navy led by Heisman Trophy winner Roger Staubach in the 1964 Cotton Bowl Classic, 28–6.

1964 Texas Longhorns football team

The 1964 Texas Longhorns football team represented the University of Texas at Austin in the 1964 college football season. The Longhorns finished the season as Orange Bowl champions. In the 1965 Orange Bowl, Tommy Nobis made one of the most famous tackles in the game's history. On fourth-and-inches, and clinging to a 21–17 lead, he led his teammates to a game-saving halt of top ranked Alabama's quarterback, Joe Namath.

1965 All-Southwest Conference football team

The 1965 All-Southwest Conference football team consists of American football players chosen by various organizations for All-Southwest Conference teams for the 1965 college football season. The selectors for the 1965 season included the Associated Press (AP).

1965 Texas Longhorns football team

The 1965 Texas Longhorns football team represented the University of Texas at Austin in the 1965 college football season.

1966 Atlanta Falcons season

The 1966 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's inaugural season in the National Football League (NFL). The Falcons finished in seventh place in the NFL Eastern Conference with a record of 3–11, ahead of only the New York Giants.

1966 NFL Draft

The 1966 National Football League draft was held at the Summit Hotel in New York City on Saturday, November 27, 1965.The expansion Atlanta Falcons were awarded the first pick in each round as well as the final pick in each of the first five rounds. The first overall selection was Tommy Nobis, a linebacker from Texas. The league also provided the Falcons with an expansion draft six weeks later.This was the last draft in which the NFL and the AFL selected their players separate of one another. As a result, most players drafted by teams from both leagues chose to play for the more established NFL, but not all. Similar to 1965, the AFL draft was held on the same day. After the merger agreement in June 1966, a common draft was held in March 1967.

1967 All-Pro Team

The following is a list of players that were named to the Associated Press All-Pro Team in 1967. Players from the first and second teams are listed, with players from the first team in bold, where applicable.

1967 Atlanta Falcons season

The 1967 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's second year in the National Football League (NFL). The team slipped from 3–11 in their inaugural season to 1–12–1, and finished in last place in the new four-team Coastal Division of the NFL Western Conference.

The Falcons were shifted from the Eastern Conference to the Western with the addition of the New Orleans Saints for 1967. Atlanta was farther east than five Eastern Conference teams: the Saints, Cleveland Browns, Dallas Cowboys, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Cardinals.

1968 All-Pro Team

This is a list of players named as All-Pros based on their performance in the 1968 AFL and NFL season. These lists provide a perspective into how players were judged against their peers by critics of their time. Players representing both the National Football League (NFL) and American Football League (AFL) are included.

1968 Atlanta Falcons season

The 1968 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's third year in the National Football League (NFL).

1969 Atlanta Falcons season

The 1969 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's fourth year in the National Football League (NFL). The team improved on their previous season's output of 2–12, winning six games. The Falcons had yet to reach the post season, and would not until 1978.

1971 Atlanta Falcons season

The 1971 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's sixth year in the National Football League (NFL). It was the first winning season in franchise history.

1972 Atlanta Falcons season

The 1972 Atlanta Falcons season was the franchise's seventh year in the National Football League (NFL). The team failed to improve on their previous season's output of 7–6–1, finishing 7–7 and failing to reach the playoffs. Standing at 7–5 the Falcons traveled to San Francisco with the NFC West division title on the line. However, the Falcons were never in the game and saw their playoff hopes end with a 20–0 shutout loss. Facing the Kansas City Chiefs in their final game of the season, Running Back Dave Hampton surpassed the 1,000-yard mark. However, a play later he is thrown for a six-yard loss and ends the season with 995 yards, as the Falcons lose and finish 7–7.

2017 Atlanta Falcons season

The 2017 season was the Atlanta Falcons' 52nd season in the National Football League and their third under head coach Dan Quinn. They entered the season as the defending NFC champions and tried to defend their NFC title for a second consecutive trip to the Super Bowl after losing the previous year against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI after blowing a 28-3 lead. This was the Falcons' first year in Mercedes-Benz Stadium after spending the previous 25 seasons in the Georgia Dome, which was demolished on November 20, 2017. Mercedes-Benz Stadium opened as scheduled on August 26, 2017; however, its retractable roof system was incomplete. The roof of Mercedes-Benz Stadium remained in the closed position for most of the 2017 season, with the roof opened only during the September 17 game against the Green Bay Packers, as contractors continue to fully mechanize the roof.On December 13, 2017, Tommy Nobis, the first player drafted by the Falcons, died at the age of 74.Despite the Falcons failing to improve on their 11–5 record from 2016 or defend their NFC South title, the team posted its first consecutive winning seasons, consecutive 10-win seasons, and consecutive playoff berths since the 2012 season. The Falcons were the only NFC team from the 2016 playoffs to qualify for the 2017 playoffs. In the playoffs, the Falcons defeated the Los Angeles Rams in the Wild Card Round, but lost against the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Divisional round.

7th Annual NFL Honors

The 7th Annual NFL Honors was an awards presentation by the National Football League that honored its best players from the 2017 NFL season. It was held on February 3, 2018 at 5:00 PM CT and pre-recorded for same-day broadcast on NBC in the United States at 9:00 PM/8:00 PM CT.

Atlanta Falcons draft history

This page is a list of the Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft selections. The first draft the Falcons participated in was 1966, in which they made linebacker Tommy Nobis of Texas their first-ever selection.

List of Atlanta Falcons first-round draft picks

The Atlanta Falcons, a professional American football team based in Atlanta, are part of the National Football Conference South Division. They joined the National Football League (NFL) as an expansion team for the 1966 season and became the first NFL franchise in the Southeastern United States. They first participated in the 1966 NFL Annual Player Selection Meeting, more commonly known as the NFL Draft. In the NFL Draft, each NFL franchise annually seeks to add new players to its roster. Teams are ranked in reverse order based on the previous season's record, with the worst record picking first, the second-worst picking second and so on. The two exceptions to this order are made for teams that appeared in the previous Super Bowl; the Super Bowl champion always picks 32nd, and the Super Bowl loser always picks 31st. Teams have the option of trading away their picks to other teams for different picks, players, cash, or a combination thereof. Thus, it is not uncommon for a team's actual draft pick to differ from their assigned draft pick, or for a team to have extra or no draft picks in any round due to these trades.In their first draft, the Falcons had two picks in the first round. These selections were Tommy Nobis, a linebacker from Texas, and Randy Johnson, a quarterback from Texas A&I. The Falcons have selected number one overall four times: Tommy Nobis, Steve Bartkowski, Aundray Bruce, and Michael Vick. The team has also selected number two overall three times and number three overall two times. The Falcons have selected players from Florida State University four times, the most from any university. The team's most recent first-round selection was Calvin Ridley, a wide receiver from the University of Alabama.

List of Texas Longhorns football All-Americans

This is a list of college football All-Americans who have played at the University of Texas at Austin.

Tommy Nobis—championships, awards and honors

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