Saturday marks 50 days until the Falcons kick off the 2019 season in Minnesota against the Vikings. Today we mark the day by saluting the greatest No. 50 in Falcons history, linebacker Greg Brezina.
Brezina grew up in a football family. Five brothers and a nephew all played for the University of Houston. That’s a record for NCAA football.
In the 1968 NFL Draft, the Falcons selected Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Claude Humphrey with the third overall pick. Brezina had to wait until the eleventh round before he was finally picked up by the Falcons. Even when being selected so late, Brezina was one of the top linebackers to come out of that draft.
Brezina came into camp late after a holdout but quickly worked his way up to being a first-team linebacker. In an interview by I.J. Rosenberg for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Brezina talked about taking the field in training camp for the first time as a No. 1 linebacker:
“I finally worked my way up to the first team and ran on the field and the guy I was replacing wouldn’t get out of the huddle. So I threw him out of the huddle. We got in a fight. It got in the papers, and after practice, they lined us up and we ran the 40. I won, and the next day, he was gone.’’
In his second season Brezina led the league in fumble recoveries with five and made the only Pro Bowl appearance of his career. After becoming a starter in 1969, he played in 151 of 154 games over the following 10 seasons.
Brezina retired with 14 fumble recoveries, a number that still tops the all-time list for Falcons defenders. He also picked off 12 passes as a linebacker.
Brezina is one of the unsung members of Falcons defense from the franchise’s early years but he’s still one of the best linebackers in Falcons history.