The iconic Texas Longhorn and Atlanta Falcon middle linebacker passed at age 74. The San Antonio native played for Darrell Royal and between 1963-1965, he was a two time All-American, the only sophomore starting on a Texas Longhorn national champion team and a three time All-SWC selection. He won the Rockne, Outland and Maxwell Awards and even finished 7th in the Heisman voting. His #60 became the treasured inheritance of great Longhorn linebacking and it’s penetration into Longhorn fandom psyche was such that I remember arguing with grade school teammates over who got to wear it. Nobis played both ways at Texas (starting at MLB and guard) and Darrell Royal called him the finest two way player he’d ever seen.
Nobis was the first pick in the 1966 NFL draft for the expansion Atlanta Falcons. There he won NFL Rookie of the Year, went to five Pro Bowls, was selected to the NFL All Decade Team and made Sports Illustrated’s All-Century Team in 1969.
Tommy Nobis shined playing for a luckless team in a small market and the lack of exposure and media regionalism of that day is the reason that Nobis isn’t enshrined in Canton in the NFL Hall of Fame. Fortunately, he staked an even more significant legacy off of the field, founding the Tommy Nobis Center, which provides job training and youth services for both youth and adults with disabilities. For his work and advocacy for the Georgia Special Olympics, he won the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. award and has been named the NFL Man of the Year.
Tommy Nobis, Longhorn Legend. RIP.