In 1965, Tommy Nobis became the first player ever drafted by the expansion Atlanta Falcons  as well as the second linebacker to be chosen first overall when he was taken with the #1 pick in the 1966 NFL Draft on November 27, 1965. The Houston Oilers also drafted him in the American Football League Draft. This presented a dilemma and also sparked a debate that reached as far as outer space when Frank Borman, an astronaut aboard Gemini 7, talked back to earth with the message, "tell Nobis to sign with Houston." Tommy Nobis instead signed with Atlanta on December 14, 1965 and became the first ever member of the Atlanta Falcons. This culminated in the nickname "Mr. Falcon".
Tommy Nobis joined the Falcons for their inaugural season in 1966. That season he won the league's NFL Rookie of the Year, was voted to the Pro Bowl and amassed an unprecedented 294 combined tackles which still stands today as the team's all-time single-season record, and is unofficially the most tackles ever credited to one player, in a season, in NFL history. In eleven professional seasons he led the Falcons in tackles nine times, went to five Pro Bowls (one in 1972 after two knee surgeries), was named All-Pro twice and was chosen for the NFL's "All-Decade Team" for the 1960s. Miami Dolphins great, running backLarry Csonka commented, "I'd rather play against Dick Butkus than Nobis," and Falcon's coach Norm Van Brocklin once pointed to Nobis' locker and proclaimed, "There's where our football team dresses."
Nobis is a member of the Atlanta Falcons' Ring of Honor and his #60 was the first number retired by the team. No other Falcons player has ever worn the number.
Nobis enjoyed a successful NFL career that many believe is worthy of Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Former NFL player and coach Dan Reeves, while head coach of the Falcons, remarked, "As a running back for eight seasons in the NFL, I certainly took my share of hits. Unfortunately I remember some of them, particularly the ones from Falcons linebacker Tommy Nobis. 'Mr. Falcon,' as he is known in this part of the country, should be considered a worthy candidate for the Hall of Fame.” Reeves based his assertion on the fact that while playing in Atlanta, prior to the days of mass media coverage, Nobis was overlooked because of the “Falcons lack of success during his tenure”. He states, “I played and coached on some great teams while I was with Dallas. Those teams consisted of Hall of Fame members like Bob Lilly, Roger Staubach and Tom Landry. I feel that Nobis' contributions on the field merit those of the Cowboys Hall of Fame players.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist and Hall of Fame voter Furman Bisher wrote, "There isn't much more one can say about Tommy Nobis. In the glow of a winning team, where he would have been a star on the isolated camera, he would already have been residing in Canton. It's not a Falcons thing, it's a Nobis thing, and here is a man who lives up to all the ideals I would establish for admission to the Pro Football Hall of Fame." 
Number 60 is also revered at Texas where it was offered only to the best of linebackers. All American Britt Hager wore #60 during his senior season, as did All American Brian Jones. In 2004, another Longhorn All-American linebacker, Derrick Johnson, decided to wear the jersey in his final collegiate home game to honor Nobis. The number has recently joined Earl Campbell's #20, Bobby Layne's #22, Ricky Williams' #34, Vince Young's #10 and Colt McCoy's #12 as UT's only retired numbers.
Tommy Nobis was inducted into the Texas Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1976. He was named to Sports Illustrated ’s All-Century Team (1869–1969)  and is a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, the State of Texas Hall of Fame, the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, and the Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame. In May 2007, he was inducted as a charter member into the Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Hall of Fame.
Tommy Nobis is currently retired from the Falcons after 40 years as a member of the organization, in the front office and on the field.
Apart from football Nobis is the founder and a Board of Directors member of the Tommy Nobis Center that began in 1975. The center provides youth and adults, with disabilities, job training and employment services. He won the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. award for his work with the Georgia Special Olympics and has been named the NFL Man of the Year.