The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 42 is placekicker Tim Mazzetti.
Years played for Falcons: Tim Mazzetti grew up in Sao Paulo, Brazil, from the age of two to 17 before leaving to go to school at Penn. Originally a soccer player, Mazzetti was encouraged to try out for the Quaker football team and found success, setting several school records including hitting a Penn-record 54-yard field goal twice. He went undrafted but received a tryout with the New England Patriots in 1977, but a failed physical due to a hernia which delayed the start of his professional career. After a year of narrowly missing making an NFL roster and working nights as a bartender, Mazzetti finally got his big break in 1978 when the Falcons signed him six games into the season. Mazzetti lasted in Atlanta from 1978 to 1980 before resurfacing in the USFL, kicking from 1983 to 1985.
Jersey No.: 4
His impact on the team: Mazzetti had a short stint with Atlanta but made the most of it especially in his rookie season. He drilled 13-of-16 field goals, including a team record 11 in a row, as well as kicking 4 game-winning FGs. Mazzetti’s biggest claim to fame came in a Monday Night Football defensive battle against the Los Angeles Rams on October 30, 1978. The Falcons edged the Rams 15-7 behind five Mazzetti field goals. MNF announcer Howard Cosell famously remarked, “This Philadelphia bartender won’t need to mix scotch-and-waters any longer.” Mazz’s clutch kicking helped propel the Falcons to their first ever playoff appearance and in the wild card round, it was his kicking prowess which helped Atlanta edge Philadelphia 14-13. Mazzetti could never recreate his rookie season success however, connecting on just 13-of-25 field goals (52 percent) in 1979 while missing six extra points. His final NFL season he struggled again, sinking 70.4 percent of his kicks.
His 1981 retirement from the Falcons: “After a great deal of serious deliberation, I have made the decision to announce my retirement from professional football. Although I’m certain this must come as quite a surprise to many of you, I hope that you all understand that this decision was not an impulsive one…I’ve got to tell you that there is a pretty good feeling in retiring when you’re still considered one of the top-rated kickers in the league.”
On working at a bar before getting his NFL break: “I forgot about football and learned a lot about myself. I was lucky to have good people around me at the bar.”
Where he is now: Mazzetti, now 59, works for Cohen Financial based in Chicago and is the president of Investor Services.