ATLANTA - Tommy Nobis, the first player ever drafted by the Atlanta Falcons, and a hard-hitting linebacker who went on to spent his entire 11-year career with the team, died Wednesday after an extended illness.
He was 74.
The team said Nobis passed away at his suburban Atlanta home.
Nobis had been in poor health with physical and cognitive ailments that may have been related to his football career.
He was among hundreds of ex-players who were part of a plan that reimburses them for expenses related to the treatment of dementia, Parkinson's, ALS or other neurological disorders.
Nobis also was among the plaintiffs who settled a massive concussion lawsuit against the league.
He played high school football at Jefferson High School in San Antonio and college football at the University of Texas.
Nobis, who was the first overall pick by the expansion Falcons in 1966, was named rookie of the year and earned the first of five Pro Bowl selections.
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