MILTON, Ga. — The Atlanta Falcons have been in existence since 1965, but only four former Falcons have been admitted into the Football Hall of Fame.
Only one of these players, however, spent the bulk of their playing time with the Falcons.
Milton Councilmember Matt Kunz and a group of supporters are determined to see a former Atlanta Falcons player inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Kunz’s father George, a former offensive lineman for the Falcons, was a first round draft pick for the Falcons in 1969 and was the second in the overall selection.
He played for the Falcons until he was traded to the Baltimore Colts in 1975.
While playing for Atlanta, George Kunz and his family lived in the area now known as Milton.
“My father won’t campaign to nominate himself so I’ve decided, with the help of several people, to do it for him,” Kunz said.
Kunz said his father once said, “I’ve always believed that if you go to work and do your job, you shouldn’t have to grandstand to get recognized for it. Let your actions speak for themselves.”
George Kunz has an impressive football history; one, which his son believes, speaks for itself.
“He is one of the premier offensive linemen of his time,” he said. “He was named to the Pro Bowl every time he wasn’t injured, a total of eight times.”
Kunz said his father was named All-Pro in 1972, 1973 and 1975 and second team All-Pro in 1976 and 1977.
George Kunz was also All-Conference in 1973, 1975, 1976 and 1977 and second team All-Conference in 1972 and 1974.
He was also selected in both 1976 and 1977 by National Football League offensive line coaches to receive the Seagram’s Crown of Seven Sports Best NFL Offensive Lineman Award.
Matt Kunz said the nomination and voting process is different than in years past.
A selection committee of about 47 sports journalists from across the country meet every June to put together a list of nominees.
From that list, about six or seven players are chosen, with only one being a player from his father’s era.
“The problem with how it’s done today is that not enough attention is paid to the senior players,” Kunz said. “These journalists grew up watching the game during the 1980s and 1990s and aren’t as familiar with the players from the 1960s and 1970s.”
George Kunz retired from football in 1980.
“There are a few senior committee members who can nominate players from my father’s era but there are other factors that come into play in the nomination and voting process,” Kunz said.
He believes players who played in a Super Bowl are nominated more often than those who didn’t.
“Football is the ultimate team sport,” Kunz said. “But the focus is usually on the guy that holds the ball and that also plays into the choice for the Hall of Fame pick.
“We also need hometown support for a pick into the Hall of Fame and sadly, Atlanta just doesn’t have that,” he said. “That’s something this committee is trying to gather.”
Kunz believes his father will eventually be admitted into the Hall of Fame but would like to see it done sooner rather than later.
“Deacon Jones played against my father and was a Hall of Fame member,” he said. “He passed away recently, and I’d prefer that my father give his acceptance speech than me.”
Kunz and committee members are working hard to see his father nominated for next June.
“We’d like to see him make it into the Hall of Fame in the next year and a half,” he said.
While the induction is important, Kunz said this isn’t just about getting his father into the Hall of Fame.
“Times have changed,” he said. “The virtues of integrity, hard work, character, discipline and dedication that were displayed by George Kunz as a player have inspired this committee to see that those virtues are recognized still today.
“We believe honor not recognized is just as detrimental to our culture as honor wrongly bestowed,” he said. “Our decision is to answer this call to action, bring honor upon one who deserves it and witness George Kunz standing on the podium at the NFL Hall of Fame ceremonies where he can once again teach us the virtue of being a champion