Tommy Nobis, Dan Reeves are Pro Football Hall of Fame finalists

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“Mr. Falcon,” Tommy Nobis, played in Atlanta from 1966-76.

Former Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis was named as a finalist for the Special Centennial Class for the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Thursday.

The blue-ribbon panel trimmed list to 20 seniors, 10 contributors and eight coaches.

Nobis died in December 2017. In March 2018, NFL.com named Nobis as the top Falcon not in the Hall of Fame.

Other Falcons have been hurt in the voting process by the team’s lack of success in the team’s early years.

It took the Falcons six years to post a winning season, 13 years to make the playoffs and 15 years to win a division title. The team went to its first Super Bowl after the 1998 season and returned after the 2016 season.

The Falcons lost both Super Bowls, including an historic collapse after leading New England 28-3 in Super Bowl LI.

Nobis was the first overall pick of the 1966 draft and set an NFL record with his 294 tackles. He was named the NFL defensive rookie of the year.

Nobis played 11 years and went to five Pro Bowls. He was an all-decade selection in the 1960s, joining fellow middle backers Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke, both of whom were first-ballot Hall of Famers.

Nobis isn’t the only Falcon who has been shunned by the Hall of Fame voters, according to Rick Gosselin of the Talk of Fame Network.

"Some of the NFL's finest offensive line play was on display in Atlanta for a span of 26 consecutive seasons from 1969 through 1994," Gosselin wrote in a 2016 article. "George Kunz was a right tackle who played the position at an elite level. So did Jeff Van Note at center, Mike Kenn at left tackle and Bill Fralic at right guard."

He noted that those players were recognized for their fine play during their careers, but not in retirement. He noted that none of the former Falcons have been a Hall of Fame finalist, and only Kenn has been a semifinalist.

The latest list of finalists will be debated in a meeting in early January and voted on by a panel to elect the 15-member “Centennial Slate” to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Those new enshrinees will be revealed in the days following the vote.

From the following finalists, 10 seniors, three contributors and two coaches will be elected to the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020.

COACHES (8 FINALISTS) – Coaches who last coached more than five seasons ago

Don Coryell – 1973-77 St. Louis Cardinals, 1978-86 San Diego Chargers
Bill Cowher – 1992-2006 Pittsburgh Steelers
Tom Flores – 1979-87 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-94 Seattle Seahawks
Mike Holmgren – 1992-98 Green Bay Packers, 1999-2008 Seattle Seahawks
Jimmy Johnson – 1989-93 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins 
Buddy Parker – 1949 Chicago Cardinals, 1951-56 Detroit Lions, 1957-64 Pittsburgh Steelers
Dan Reeves – 1981-92 Denver Broncos, 1993-96 New York Giants, 1997-2003 Atlanta Falcons
Dick Vermeil – 1976-82 Philadelphia Eagles, 1997-99 St. Louis Rams, 2001-05 Kansas City Chiefs

CONTRIBUTORS (10 FINALISTS) – An individual other than a player or coach

Bud Adams, Owner – 1960-2013 Houston Oilers/Tennessee Oilers/Titans
Ralph Hay, Owner – 1918-22 Canton Bulldogs
Frank "Bucko" Kilroy, Scout/General Manager/Executive – 1960-61 Philadelphia Eagles, 1962-64 Washington Redskins, 1965-70 Dallas Cowboys, 1971-2006 New England Patriots
Art McNally, Official/Administrator – 1959-2015 National Football League
Art Modell, Owner – 1961-95 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens
Clint Murchison, Founder/Owner – 1960-83 Dallas Cowboys
Steve Sabol, Administrator/President – 1964-2012 NFL Films
Seymour Siwoff, Owner/President – 1952-2019 Elias Sports Bureau 
Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
George Young, Contributor/General Manager – 1968-74 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-97 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League

SENIORS (20 FINALISTS) – A player who last played more than 25 seasons ago

Cliff Branch, WR – 1972-85 Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders
Harold Carmichael, WR – 1971-83 Philadelphia Eagles, 1984 Dallas Cowboys
Jim Covert, T – 1983-90 Chicago Bears
Roger Craig, RB – 1983-90 San Francisco 49ers, 1991 Los Angeles Raiders, 1992-93 Minnesota Vikings
Bobby Dillon, S – 1952-59 Green Bay Packers
LaVern Dilweg, E – 1926 Milwaukee Badgers, 1927-34 Green Bay Packers
Ox Emerson, G/LB/C – 1931-37 Portsmouth Spartans/Detroit Lions, 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers
Randy Gradishar, LB – 1974-83 Denver Broncos
Cliff Harris, S – 1970-79 Dallas Cowboys
Winston Hill, T – 1963-76 New York Jets, 1977 Los Angeles Rams
Cecil Isbell, TB/DB/HB – 1938-42 Green Bay Packers
Alex Karras, DT – 1958-62, 1964-70 Detroit Lions
Verne Lewellen, HB – 1924-27, 1928-32 Green Bay Packers, 1927 New York Yankees
Tommy Nobis, LB – 1966-76 Atlanta Falcons
Drew Pearson, WR – 1973-83 Dallas Cowboys
Donnie Shell, S – 1974-87 Pittsburgh Steelers
Duke Slater, T – 1922 Milwaukee Badgers, 1922-25 Rock Island Independents, 1926-1931 Chicago Cardinals
Mac Speedie, E – 1946-52 Cleveland Browns (AAFC/NFL)
Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB/E – 1944-55 Chicago Bears
Al Wistert, OT/DT/G – 1943 Phil-Pitt, 1944-51 Philadelphia Eagles

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