Top 50 Falcons: No. 41, Buddy Curry

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 41 is linebacker Buddy Curry.

Years played for Falcons: From the time he was drafted in 1980 out of North Carolina until his retirement following the 1987 season, Curry (36th overall) pick was known for his gritty play and non-stop motor. In his rookie season, the second rounder was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was an All-Pro selection his first year and in 1982. Curry immediately made an impact and helped turn around a 6-10 team with the 26th ranked defense into a division-winning 12-4 unit that ranked fifth in points allowed in 1980.

Jersey No.: 50

Former Falcons linebacker Buddy Curry addresses a Georgia State House committee on efforts to curb concussions in high school football. (AJC File)

His impact on the team: He played 109 games in a Falcons uniform and his 229 tackles in 1983 are third all-time for a single season behind Tommy Nobis (296 in 1966) and Fulton Kuykendall (284 in 1978). Curry led the team in tackles for four straight years (1980-83) and six times during his career. His rookie season marked Atlanta’s first division title in franchise history. He retired after the 1988 season and went into sales for 10 years before going back to doing what he loves best. Curry has been the head master trainer for USA Football's "Heads Up Football Program", which teaches youth athletes proper tackling techniques. His youngest son David is on football scholarship at Georgia Tech, while daughter Gabby was named The Georgia Volleyball Coaches Association the Class AAAA state player of the year for the 2015 season.

On playing for head coach Jerry Glanville: “Best motivator I played for. He knew how to get every bit of ability and effort out of you. We were more physical than any other team because of it."

On the toughest running back he faced in the NFL: “It was Walter Peyton because of how he played and approached the game. He was a smart football player and played to the whistle and gave it his all. He blocked well, ran the ball well and was just a complete back. He was not a prima donna even though they called him 'Sweetness.' He was a classy individual."

On his kids playing football: “Football is way for kids to learn and grow up and handle adversity, which they don’t get anywhere else. It’s an opportunity to be physical and a way to develop as football players. My kids were able to be a part of a special team at Buford. They are all good football players. My son David is amazing and a prime example of when a kid hangs in there. He is the most physical player on the team."

On his daughter’s ability: “She is the truest competitor in the family and works the hardest. She is your scholar-athlete and is a leader.’’

Where he is now: Now 57, Curry lives with his wife, Dawn, in Buford and they have four children: Justin (27), Jessell (23), David (20) and Gabrielle (17). In 2002 along with former teammate Bobby Butler and Dawn, Curry started Kids & Pros nonprofit football camps. He continues to work closely with the Falcons and is a Master Trainer for USA Football and his "Heads Up Training" camps teaches “safety awareness through proper tackling techniques and fundamentals in a non-contact environment, along with life skills lessons, for kids ages."

The countdown to the Top 50 players in Falcons history runs through the end of the season.

Top 50 Falcons Countdown

50: Chuck Smith

49: Michael Haynes

48: Jonathan Babineaux

47: John Zook

46: Ken Reaves

45: Lynn Cain

44: Justin Blalock

43: Bobby Butler

42: Tim Mazzetti

41: Buddy Curry

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