Tommy Nobis 6'2" 240 Linebacker Atlanta Falcons 1966 - 1976 11 Seasons 133 Games Played 5 Pro Bowls 1966 NFL Rookie of the Year
Thomas Henry Nobis Jr. was the first draft pick ever by the expansion Atlanta Falcons in the 1966 NFL draft. He was also the first player chosen overall. Nobis is a legend in Texas. He was an All State football player, while growing up in San Antonio. He then attended college at the University of Texas at Austin. There, he started at Linebacker and Offensive Guard. Tommy was the only sophomore starter on the Longhorns' 1963 National Championship team. Nobis averaged nearly 20 tackles per game at Texas, and was a two way player on teams that were ranked No. 1 in the nation at some point during each of his three years. Tommy was also named to the All-Southwest Conference team in his three years as a Longhorn. He still holds the Longhorns record for most interceptions in a season by a Linebacker, and currently ranks third in Texas history for career interceptions by a Linebacker. Nobis' profile made national headlines while playing the 1964 Orange Bowl versus Alabama. Late in the game, with Texas leading by 4 points, Alabama had the ball on the Longhorns one yard line. On 4th down, future Hall of Fame Quarterback Joe Namath tried to score and was greeted by Nobis inches short. Tommy graced the covers of Life, Sports Illustrated and Time magazines. A two-time All-American, Nobis won several awards in his senior year. While winning the Knute Rockne, Outland, and Maxwell Awards, he finished 7th in the Heisman voting. Tommy Nobis was selected to the Football News All Time All America team, Sports Illustrated's All Century Team, and the Walter Camp Football Foundation All Century Team. He is also a member of the Texas and Georgia State High School Halls of Fame, Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Hall of Fame, the San Antonio Hall of Fame, the Longhorn Hall of Honor and the National Football Foundation College Hall of Fame.
Nobis started right away for the Falcons, and was very busy on a new team that struggled to a 3-11 record. He set a Falcons record, that still stands today, when he amassed 294 tackles. It may be an NFL record, but that stat is unofficial and kept by individual teams. He was named to his first All Pro team, and was the 1966 NFL Rookie of the Year. Tommy intercepted the first 3 passes of his career the next season, and returned one for a touchdown. He was also selected to his second All Pro team. In 1968, he was named to his third All Pro team, as the struggling Falcons went through a coaching change by hiring Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin after the third week of the season. Nobis was injured in the 5th game of the following year, and missed the rest of the season. Nobis came back in 1970 and was named to the All Pro team. He then was injured in the 4th game of the following season, and missed the rest of the year. Tommy would only miss two games for the rest of his career. He made his last All Pro team in 1972, and also scored the last touchdown of his career. 1973 would be the best record the Falcons had during Nobis' career. They went 9-5. Atlanta won 50 games in his eleven seasons. His number 60 the first number retired by the team, and he is a member of the Falcons' Ring of Honor, Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, and the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. He has also been named the NFL Man of the Year (Dodge and Vitalis), and Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. award, due to his work with the Special Olympics as a member of the Falcons front office, and in his own foundation. Tommy Nobis is on the NFL's All-1960s team, which is quite an accomplishment if you consider he didn't even play half of the decade.
It is TRULY astounding that 'Mr. Falcon' still has yet to be inducted into Canton. Sure, he played on many lousy Falcons teams, but he was outstanding. The team got little publicity during Tommy's time, but the voters CANNOT use this as an excuse. These voters are supposed to represent the whole NFL, not just the media driven franchises. They are supposed to be experts, or at least this is what their positions as voters implies. The exclusion of Nobis for all of these years belies that thought. Tommy Nobis epitomizes what a Hall of Fame football player is supposed to symbolize. Both on and off the field. It is truly disgraceful, and disrespectful, that Tommy Nobis is not in Canton.
Notable Players Drafted In 1966 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)
2. Tom Mack, G, Los Angeles Rams * 5. John Niland, G, Dallas 13. Gale Gillingham, G, Green Bay 14. Milt Morin, TE, Cleveland 18. Mike Garrett, RB, LA Rams 20. Gary Pettigre, DT, Philadelphia 26. Bob Windsor, TE, San Francisco 36. Ben Hawkins, WR, Philadelphia 37. Al Randolph, DB, San Francisco 42. Don Hansen, LB, Minnesota 49. Ken Reaves, CB, Atlanta 55. Doug Van Horn, G, Detroit 60. Doug Buffone, LB, Chicago 63. Hoyle Granger, RB, Baltimore Colts 66. Diron Talbert, DT, LA Rams 69. Mel Phillips, DB, San Francisco 73. Jack Clancy, WR, St. Louis Cardinals 79. Walt Garrison, RB, Dallas 89. Mel Tom, DE, Philadelphia 93. Fred Hoaglin, C, Cleveland 98. Emerson Boozer, RB, Pittsburgh 110. Ray Perkins, WR, NY Giants 119. Dave Witcher, WR, San Francisco 139. Jack Gregory, DE, Cleveland 152. Bobby Burnett, RB, Chicago 167. Terry Owens, T, Chicago 174. Bruce Van Dyke, G, Philadelphia 179. Ken Avery, LB, NY Giants 208. Elmer Collett, G, San Francisco 209. Howard Twilley, WR, Minnesota 273. Charlie Harraway, RB, Minnesota
Notable 1966 AFL Draftees
15. Francis Peay, T, Kansas City 25. Randy B. Jackson, T, Buffalo 58. Tom Mitchell, TE, Oakland 59. Pete Banaszak, RB, Oakland 61. Jim Tolbert, DB, San Diego 68. Pete Lammons, TE, NY Jets 73. Paul Guidry, LB, Buffalo 140. Steve Smith, T, Houston 141. Rick Acks, LB, NY Jets