Tommy Nobis Center envisions supportive communities where people with disabilities are afforded the opportunity to work.


Empowering People Through Employment

Serving businesses throughout Metro Atlanta and 19 states, Tommy Nobis Center helps individuals with all types of disabilities to enter or return to employment, and to enjoy productive and independent lifestyles while contributing to the greater business community. Since 1977, we have helped more than 25,000 individuals find dignity and workplace success.

Our History

In 1975, Bobbie Knopf was chair of the Department of Special Education at Northside High School in Atlanta. At that time, she began a needs assessment dialogue with Joyce Slaughter, the mother of one of Bobbie’s students. They realized that the options available in North Atlanta for students with special needs after completing high school were limited.

As a result of the needs assessment, they formed an advisory board. Having heard of Tommy Nobis’ commitment to the Special Olympics and persons with disabilities, the board approached the Atlanta Falcons All Pro Linebacker for support and named the project Tommy Nobis Center.

In 1977, Tommy Nobis Center hired Connie Kirk, who served as President & CEO for 39 years. Once incorporated, the Center’s team contracted with the Georgia Department of Labor’s Vocational Rehabilitation Program to provide vocational/work evaluations, social, personal, work adjustment services, job placement and job coaching for area clients.

In the 1980s, Tommy Nobis Center expanded its mission to include employment opportunities. To accommodate this expansion, the Center moved twice in the next decade, settling in 1992 in a 52,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility in Marietta, Georgia funded by public and private donations. Today, the organization’s federal contracting division, Nobis Enterprises, employs individuals with disabilities in 18 states.

In 2006, the Center began to concentrate on today’s model of community-based training sites. Tommy Nobis Center still provides training and employment services on-site, and at several community-based locations around Metro Atlanta & the South.

About Tommy Nobis

Tommy Nobis was one of the most prolific linebackers in the history of the NFL. Below is a recap of his incredible career and life after football.

Career Recap:

  • Tommy was the first ever player drafted by the Atlanta Falcons organization in the inaugural 1966 season and quickly became the first ever Falcon voted to the Pro Bowl.
  • “Mr. Falcon” led the team in tackles in nine of his 11 seasons, earning five trips to the Pro Bowl.
  • After his 46th consecutive NFL game, he underwent knee surgery in 1969 and on the other knee in 1971. Known for his toughness, Nobis came back from both surgeries to earn another Pro Bowl spot in 1972.
  • In a poll conducted in 1970 by ABC to pick the best athlete of the decade of the 1960’s, running back O.J. Simpson was number one, and Tommy Nobis was number two in the entire country.
  • Tommy had an astronomical 294 total combined tackles as a rookie, still the team’s club record.
  • Tommy also intercepted 11 passes during his professional career, returning two for touchdowns, and getting fined $100 each time for throwing the ball into the stands.
  • His uniform #60 was the first one the Falcons ever retired, and the number has only been worn by him during the team’s entire history.


  • Five-time Pro Bowler: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1970 and 1972.
  • NFL Rookie of the Year in 1966.
  • Voted into the Hall of Fame of the National Collegiate Football Foundation, the State of Texas Hall of Fame and the State of Georgia Hall of Fame.
  • Named to Sports Illustrated’s All-Century Team (1869-1969).

College Career:

  • As the most outstanding lineman in college football, he won both the Outland and Maxwell trophies at the University of Texas.
  • Tommy played both offensive guard and linebacker for Darrel Royal on the Texas Longhorns team that won the 1963 national championship over Roger Staubach and Navy. In 1964, the 10-1 Longhorns beat Joe Namath and Alabama in the Orange Bowl.
  • Tommy is a two-time All-American, once as offensive guard and once as linebacker.

With the same passion he devoted to football, Tommy dedicated his post-retirement life to helping people with disabilities find meaningful employment.

He and his wife, Lynn, have three children, Tommy III, Kevin and Devon and eight grandchildren. They have lived in Atlanta since 1966.

Tommy Nobis Statement

Statement on Tommy Nobis’ Passing | December 13, 2017

We were deeply saddened to learn of Tommy Nobis’ passing this morning. As the co-founder and namesake of our organization, Tommy Nobis Center, his passing has hit us particularly hard. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Lynn Nobis, and his family, as they grieve the loss of a great legend and warm and wonderful man on and off the field.

Tommy Nobis was not only an incredible football player, from his early days at University of Texas to becoming the first draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons expansion team in 1966, but also he was tirelessly dedicated to giving back to his community. It is through his focus on serving that Tommy Nobis Center was founded 40 years ago this year.

Tommy instilled his work ethic and drive into our organization, and without his involvement, 25,000 lives of those with physical and developmental disabilities would not have been so positively impacted. We are forever in his debt.

Tommy’s legacy will live on through Tommy Nobis Center as we continue to change the lives of those with disabilities through employment.

Dave Ward
President & CEO
Tommy Nobis Center