Falcons, Atlanta United retire No. 44 for one season

The Falcons and Atlanta United are temporarily retiring No. 44 in honor of Hank Aaron, who died Friday at the age of 86.

The honor is for the 2021 season for each team. Both teams are owned by Arthur Blank.

“To celebrate the incredible life and career of baseball legend Hank Aaron, we are proud to retire the No. 44 this season for our Atlanta United and ATLUTD 2 teams,” Atlanta United President Darren Eales said in a statement from the team.

“He was an American hero, a trailblazer and arguably Atlanta’s greatest sports icon. The impact he had on our city, our country and the sports world is immeasurable. Hank Aaron will undoubtedly live on through the countless lives he touched and through the young athletes across the globe who he has inspired.”

“When you look at icons of Atlanta and the sport of baseball, Hank Aaron is undoubtedly included in that group,” Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay said in a statement from the team.

“But he was more than an icon in sports, he was an icon off the field as well in how he carried himself and treated others. Because of that we are honored to celebrate his awe-inspiring life by retiring No. 44 this season for our Atlanta Falcons. He was a true icon and yet when you encountered him, he always made you feel special. He was a great ambassador for the game of baseball, a great ambassador of the City of Atlanta and quite simply a great person.”

Blank issued this statement earlier Friday:

“We are heartbroken and saddened by this morning’s passing of baseball legend, trailblazer and icon, Henry “Hank” Aaron. He not only made a great impact on the diamond, but in society as well with his caring and genuine spirit, always taking the time to be a friend to all. As an original member of the Falcons Board of Directors, he served as a mentor to so many of our players throughout the years, providing a source of knowledge and support on what it takes to build a winning culture while always displaying a great deal of humility. We loved Hank and his wife, Billye, and we are truly saddened by his passing. May he rest in peace.”

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