Atlanta Falcons Team History
On June 30, 1965, the Atlanta Falcons were born. The NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle granted ownership to Rankin M. Smith, Sr., the executive vice president of Life Insurance Company of Georgia. The name Falcons was suggested by Julia Elliott (1909–1990) a high school teacher from Griffin, Georgia who won a contest in 1965. Though 40 other contestants had also suggested the name, Elliott wrote in an essay, “The falcon is proud and dignified, with great courage and fight. It never drops its prey. It’s deadly and has a great sporting tradition.” Among the many suggested names were the Knights, Bombers, Rebels, Crackers, Thrashers which would later be the name of the city’s second NHL team, Lancers, Firebirds, Fireballs and Thunderbirds.” The Atlanta Falcons began their first NFL season in the NFL Eastern Conference, playing a “swing schedule”, consisting of playing every other team once, in order to make up for the disparity of an odd number of teams. Their first game (preseason) was on August 1, 1966 against the Philadelphia Eagles before a crowd of 26,072 at the Atlanta Stadium.
In 1992, the Falcons would move from the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium to the Georgia Dome and finish with a 6–10 record. In the off-season, the team traded Brett Favre to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a first-round draft pick. Atlanta would regret this decision as Favre went on to fame and glory with his new team.
In 1998, under recently acquired head coach Dan Reeves, quarterback Chris Chandler and running back Jamal Anderson the “Dirty Bird” Falcons had their greatest season to date. On November 8, they beat the New England Patriots 41–10, ending a streak of 22 losses at cold-weather sites. The team finished with a franchise-best 14–2 regular season record and the NFC West division championship. On January 17, 1999, the Falcons upset the top-seeded Vikings at Minnesota in the NFC Championship Game 30–27, in an exciting overtime victory. However, in their first-ever Super Bowl appearance, they lost 34–19 to the defending champion Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXXIII.
Smith continued to manage day-to-day operations of the team until 1990, when he turned control of the team over to his son Taylor Smith. The team was sold to Arthur M. Blank in 2002 for $545 million. In February 2002, Blank purchased the Atlanta Falcons franchise in the National Football League from owner Taylor Smith, the son of team founder Rankin M. Smith, Sr., who took over the team after the elder Smith’s death.
Mercedes-Benz Stadium is an under-construction retractable-roof, multi-purpose stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, that will serve as the home of the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League (NFL) and Atlanta United FC of Major League Soccer (MLS). It is intended to replace the Georgia Dome, which has been the Falcons’ home stadium since 1992. The total cost is estimated at $1.5 billion. Mercedes-Benz Stadium is scheduled to host Super Bowl LIII in 2019.
The Atlanta Falcons are a professional American football team based in Atlanta, Georgia. The Falcons compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league’s National Football Conference (NFC) South division. The Falcons joined the NFL in 1965 as an expansion team, after the NFL offered then-owner Rankin Smith a franchise to keep him from joining the rival American Football League (AFL). The AFL instead granted a franchise to Miami (the Miami Dolphins). The Falcons are tied with the Dolphins (who also began play in 1966) for being the oldest NFL franchise in the Deep South, and are the oldest NFC team in that region.
1966 – Present National Football League
Falcons – Like many teams, when the Falcons were founded in 1966 they held a naming contest. Thirteen hundred people combined to suggest more than 500 names, including Peaches, Vibrants, Lancers, Confederates, Firebirds, and Thrashers. The name Falcons was entered by several people, but the winning entry was awarded to Julia Elliot for describing the Falcon as “proud, dignified and it never drops its prey. It is deadly and has great sporting tradition.”
1966 – Present Atlanta Falcons
Super Bowl 0
2017 – Present Mercedes-Benz Stadium
1992 – 2016 Georgia Dome
1976 – 1991 Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium
1966 – 1976 Atlanta Stadium
2002 – Present Arthur Blank
1997 – 2002 Taylor Smith
1966 – 1997 Rankin M. Smith, Sr.
10 Steve Bartkowski
31 William Andrews
57 Jeff Van Note
60 Tommy Nobis
Unknown Freddie Falcon
*Blue is this team’s history