Top 50 Falcons: No. 25, Rolland Lawrence

Rolland Lawrence, Atlanta Falcons
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Top 50 Falcons: No. 25, Rolland Lawrence
Rolland Lawrence, Atlanta Falcons

Cornerback Rolland Lawrence’s eight-year career with the Falcons spanned from 1973 to 1980. (AP)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is counting down the Top 50 players in Atlanta Falcons history during the franchise’s 50th anniversary season. No. 25 is cornerback Rolland Lawrence.

Years played for Falcons: Rolland Lawrence’s eight-year career spanning from 1973 to 1980, was one of the most productive stretches a Falcons cornerback has ever seen. Lawrence went undrafted out of Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kan. He quickly made a name for himself as a ball hawking corner and punt returner. Lawrence or “Bay” as he was referred to, retired after the 1980 season as a 29-year-old, leaving many to wonder “what-if” he continued to play into his 30s.

Jersey No.: 22

His impact on the team: From undrafted to becoming the all-time leader in franchise history with 39 interceptions, Lawrence helped the Falcons to two playoff appearances including the franchise’s first-ever division title in 1980. In 1975 he picked off nine passes, a career-high, and in 1977 he was named to the Pro Bowl and was an All-Pro selection, all while being named Falcon of the Year during the “Gritz Blitz” defense’s record-breaking season. He never missed a single game while in Atlanta and was always counted on to thwart opposing teams’ passing attacks. Lawrence, however, was covering Drew Pearson in the 1981 playoff game against Dallas when the Cowboys came back late and won 30-27 on a Danny White touchdown pass to Pearson, a loss that took the franchise years to recover from.

Rolland Lawrence

Falcons’ Tom Pridemore (27) and Rolland Lawrence (22) try but fail to stop Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson (88) catch a pass in the NFC divisional playoff game Jan. 5, 1981, in Atlanta. Pearson went on to score a touchdown, handing Dallas a 30-27 win in the final minutes. (AP)

On holding the Falcons all-time interception record: “Who is that gentleman? Revis. I chuckle because I like to think especially when we had our Gritz Blitz, you talk about being on an island, I was on an island.”

Where he is now: Lawrence, now 64, lives in Franklin, Pa. with his wife Sandy of 29 years. He is recently retired after working 24 years with Vision Quest, a company that helped troubled youth. Today, he still helps substitute teach, coach football and basketball and is an avid golfer with his wife.

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
29: Greg Brezina
28: Chris Miller
27: John James
26: Bob Whitfield
25: Rolland Lawrence


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