Bird man: Falcons' Anderson is a what could have been NFL story

06/10/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak



The "Ickey Shuffle" by former Cincinnati Bengal Ickey Woods. The "Super Bowl Shuffle" by the 1985 Chicago Bears. Those were two of the NFL's most famous dances from the 1980's. But in the 1990's, one dance stood out. En route to the Atlanta Falcons only Super Bowl appearance in franchise history during the 1998/1999 season, the "Dirty Bird" took flight.
The man behind the dance, running back Jamal Anderson. Drafted by Atlanta in the 7th round in 1994 out of the University of Utah, it took a while for Anderson's career to get started. He only registered 2 carries his rookie season. He'd carry only 39 times in 1995, because he was playing behind Craig "Iron Head" Heyward his first two season in the NFL. Heyward's finest two NFL seasons were Anderson's first two years in the league. But following Heyward's Pro-Bowl season in 1995, Anderson supplanted him as the starter in the Falcons backfield in 1996.
Given the opportunity, Anderson literally took the ball and ran. Anderson put up over 1,500 yards in total offense in 1996, rushing for 1,055 yards. In 1997, Anderson put up another 1,000 yard rushing season. But it was 1998 where Jamal Anderson became known as "Jam" and the "Dirty Bird" was born. As the Falcons rolled to a 14 and 2 record and the NFC West division title, Anderson put up a career season. "Jam" would lead the NFC in rushing, rushing for 1,846 yards on the and putting up over 2,100 yards in total offense. But the "Dirty Bird" dance Anderson created was just as well known as his statistics on the field. The Falcons would ride Anderson all the way to the Super Bowl, before falling to Denver.

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Injuries would lead to Anderson playing in only 2 games the season after the Falcons Super Bowl run. But "Jam" was back at it in 2000, recording over 1,400 yards in total offense eclipsing the 1,000 yard mark again. But Anderson sustained a major knee injury in 2001, ending his NFL career after 8 seasons.
For his career, Anderson put up nearly 7,000 yards in total offense and scoring 41 touchdowns. Anderson also made his only Pro Bowl appearance in 1998. Following his NFL career, Anderson worked in various roles as a television sports broadcaster. He also runs Jam Entertainment, which promotes concerts and events across the country.
Ask any NFL fan about the on field success and solid career stats that Anderson put up and most wouldn't be able to tell you. But I bet if you asked those same fans if they could do "The Dirty Bird" they would.

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