Top 50 Falcons: No. 30, Don Smith

Don Smith, Atlanta Falcons
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Top 50 Falcons: No. 30, Don Smith
Don Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Falcons’ defensive end Don Smith was a part of the 1980 team which went 12-4 and captured the franchise’s first ever division title. (NFL Photos)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 30 nose tackle Don Smith.

Years played for Falcons: Don Smith was selected 17th overall in the first round of the 1979 NFL Draft out of the University of Miami and played six years with Atlanta. Though he never made a single Pro Bowl, Smith is regarded as one of the best Falcons to ever line up in the trenches defensively.

Jersey No.: 65

Don Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Falcons’ defensive lineman Don Smith reaches for a lose ball by Saints quarterback Archie Manning. (AJC File)

His impact on the team: Smith recorded 38.5 sacks as a Falcon and ranks in the top ten all-time in franchise history. Jerry Glanville, who was the team’s defensive coordinator when Smith was on the team, said the former Hurricanes star was perhaps the best nose guard that ever played for him. From Smith’s time in Atlanta spanning 1979 to 1984, the Falcons made two playoff appearances. He was a part of the 1980 team which went 12-4 and captured the franchise’s first ever division title. In 1982’s strike shortened season, he once again made it to the playoffs with the Falcons going 5-4. Smith never won a playoff game with Atlanta however. He spent three more seasons in the NFL, two coming in Buffalo and his last in 1987 with the New York Jets before retiring.

On meeting head coach Leeman Bennett for the first time: “During the [celebration of getting drafted] party, I pinched my fingers in the back of a door jam. So I had to meet Leeman Bennett, our new coach, with bloody fingers all wrapped up and I lost a fingernail. So he figured his new number one draft pick had injured himself somehow already.”

On playing for Glanville: “He was always a very enthusiastic guy. Whenever we went out to practice, Jerry was always hollering and smiling and brought that level of intensity and enthusiasm that even if you were a little low that day, just listening to Jerry will pick you up.”

Where he is now: Now 58, Smith lives in the Tampa area with his wife, who is from Roswell. He works with heavy-duty truck lifts along with former teammate Jeff Merrow and Merrow’s brother Dave. The Merrow’s control the Georgia area while Smith manages the Florida region.

The countdown to the Top 50 players in Falcons history runs through the end of the season.

Top 50 Falcons Countdown

50: Chuck Smith
49: Michael Haynes
48: Jonathan Babineaux
47: John Zook
46: Ken Reaves
45: Lynn Cain
44: Justin Blalock
43: Bobby Butler
42: Tim Mazzetti
41: Buddy Curry
40: Scott Case
39: Jeff Merrow
38: Elbert Shelley
37: Matt Bryant
36: Alge Crumpler
35: Michael Turner
34: Ray Buchanan
33: Chris Hinton
32: Terance Mathis
31: Devin Hester
30: Don Smith


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