Throwback Thursday: Jeff Van Note

The offensive line never gets any love. They’re ridiculed, jokingly referred to as the fat boys up front, and never recognized for their importance to the game of football.

However, games are won and lost in the trenches. Matt Ryan would never have time to let the pigskin fly down the field to Julio without protection from the o-line, and Devonta Freeman would never have earned a ticket to the Pro-Bowl without guys like Jake Matthews clearing lanes for him.

With that being said, it’s time to recognize the finest Center to ever wear a red jersey in Atlanta, Jeff Van Note.

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Bartowski (10) prepares to take the snap from Van Note (57) (AP Photo/NFL Photos)

This man was the definition of grit and toughness. The 11th round draft pick played 18 seasons in Atlanta from 1969 to 1986. Over those 18 years, he played 246 games and started 226, missing only 4 games throughout his long tenure in Atlanta. His 226 games started for the Falcons is second to only another legendary Falcons lineman, Mike Kenn. He brought stability and toughness to a growing franchise and snapped the balled to 14 different quarterbacks.

Atlanta loved their consistent, tough, and dominant center, and made sure he knew it. His number, 57, was retired in a halftime ceremony at his final home game, and he was given a ’57 Chevy to ride off into the sunset in style.

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