Nobis, Tommy “Mr. Falcon” (1943-2017)

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Cards: Topps 1971, Topps 1977, Upper Deck Legends 1997
Acquired: 2013, C/o Home
Sent: 1/2    Received : 3/6 (58 days)

Tommy Nobis is considered one of the greatest linebackers in the University of Texas’ history winning the Outland and Maxwell trophies in 1965 as the best all around linebacker in the country. (What was even more amazing was that Nobis also was the offense’s starting guard as well.) A proven star against big name talent, Nobis helped the Longhorns win the 1963 Cotton Bowl for the college’s first College Football National Championship against Roger Staubach and Navy. Nobis later helped the Longhorns defeat famed quarterback Joe Namath and Alabama in 1965 in the Orange Bowl.

Tommy was wooed by both the NFL and the AFL after the 1965 season. In one of his more grander schemes during the AFL’s renegade days, Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams courted Nobis on board an airplane flight over Texas. Nobis was the #1 overall pick of the NFL Atlanta Falcons, and the #5 pick overall of the AFL Houston Oilers. Tommy opted to sign with the Falcons, becoming their first ever draft choice and earning his nickname, “Mr. Falcon”.

to71 nobisNobis immediately made an impact for the team, recording an unofficial and unprecedented, 294 tackles his rookie season, and earning NEA NFL Rookie of the Year honors.  A lone bright spot on a very lousy team, Tommy had a motor that just wouldn’t quit, and he anchored the Falcons defense down almost single-handedly in those early years. He actually understood and could call defensive formations, covered the run or pass with ease, and hit like a Mack truck. Tommy finished his NFL career with 5 Pro Bowl nominations and one AP nod. He retired after the 1977 season. Tommy’s numbers are all the more impressive considering that he had 2 seasons fairly marred by knee injuries.  Very few football fans talk about Nobis on the measure of the other greats of the late 60s, but during that time, he was considered one of the best in the business. What guys like Butkus had over Nobis was big market exposure, and despite Mr. Falcon’s efforts, he has never gotten into the NFL Hall of Fame. In fact Butkus and Nobis had very similar numbers, and played for astonishingly equal bad teams. Punishing runningback Larry Czonka once even stated, “I’d rather play against Dick Butkus, than Tommy Nobis.”

Nobis’ number 60 is officially retired at the University of Texas alongside Earl Campbell‘s number 20. It comes out of retirement semi-periodically when the team has had an outstanding talent at the position that they wish to honor, such as Britt Hager during the late 80s and Derrick Johnson more recently during the early 2000’s. A member of the NFL All-1960s team, Tommy has also been honored by the Atlanta Falcons as well, and worked in their front office for many years.

Tac  1183      Sac N/a     Fum 13       Int 12     Yds 182   Avg     Td 2    Lg  41

UPDATE 12/13/17- Tommy Nobis passed away today at the age of 74. No immediate cause of death was provided.