March 9, 2014

Rookie of the Year: Buddy Curry, 1980

Linebacker, Atlanta Falcons

Age: 22
College: North Carolina
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 221

An All-ACC selection, Curry was a second-round draft choice by the Falcons for 1980, one of four linebackers they took. Starting on the inside, he combined with fellow rookie Al Richardson (who he ended up sharing AP Defensive Rookie of the Year honors with), veteran Fulton Kuykendall, and second-year OLB Joel Williams to create an outstanding corps of linebackers.

1980 Season Summary
Appeared in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Sacks – N/A
Interceptions – 3
Most interceptions, game – 1 at New England 9/14, vs. Washington 11/30, at Philadelphia 12/7
Int. return yards – 13
Most int. return yards, game – 9 (on 1 int.) at New England 9/14
Int. TDs – 0
Fumble recoveries – 1
Fumble rec. TDs – 1

TDs – 1
Points – 6

Postseason: 1 G (NFC Divisional playoff vs. Dallas)
Interceptions – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: AP (co-winner), PFWA
1st team All-NFC: Pro Football Weekly

Falcons went 12-4 to finish first in the NFC West with the best record in the conference. Lost NFC Divisional playoff to Dallas Cowboys (30-27).  

Curry had another solid season in 1981, despite the team’s overall decline, and scored his only NFL touchdown on an interception return. He led the Falcons in tackles in the strike-shortened ’82 season (something he regularly did throughout his career), but a knee injury prevented him from appearing in the playoff game afterward. Moved to the outside in 1983, Curry recorded a career-high four sacks, but was shifted to the middle as the team went to a 4-3 defense in ’84. After appearing in 105 straight games through 1986, Curry was limited to four games due to injury in ’87 and retired in the offseason. Overall, he played eight years with the Falcons and led the team in tackles in each of the first seven.


Rookie of the Year Profiles feature players who were named Rookie of the Year in the NFL, AFL (1960-69), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press – Offense or Defense, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, or the league itself – Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year).