June 30, 1965 was a very important date in the history of sports in Atlanta. It was the day when the NFL decided that their 15th team would be based in the southern metropolis. Atlanta tried to get an NFL franchise for a long time and now the hard work finally paid out. However, it took a long time before success in the NFL came to the city as well.
One of the first measures that the owner of the new team, the insurance salesman Rankin M. Smith, initiated was a competition which should help to find a name for the new team. The name Atlanta Falcons was desired by many contestants, because – as it was said in one of the submissions -. “The falcon is a proud and graceful animal, with great courage and willingness to fight, which never loses his faith in his abilities as a deadly hunter». The Falcons are also called “Nasty Birds” by their own fans.
The Atlanta Falcons started proud and dignified and sold more tickets than any other expansion team before: With virtually no advertising, all tickets for the first season were sold after 54 days. The ticket sales were mainly driven by the commitment of the best college player in the draft, the linebacker Tommy Nobis from the University of Texas. And the assignment of Norb Hecker, a former assistant of Vince Lombardi, as the new head coach boosted the hopes for Georgias capital.
The start of the Falcons on the field, however, was not very good: The first nine games were lost and it took the Falcons until 1971 to end a season with more victories than defeats for the first time. In 1977 season, the Falcons set a record that will probably last a long time: Their defense only allowed 129 points – a record for a regular season. In the late 1970s, early 1980s the Falcons, great personalitites played for the Falcons, like quarterback Steve Bartkowski, running back William Andrews and linebacker Tommy Nobis. Nevertheless, they only managed to get to the playoffs a few times.
In the 1990s, the Falcons finished seasons with more vitories than defeats almost every year. The biggest success of the Atlanta Falcons ever came in 1998 when they played their best season with 14 wins and only 2 losses, and finally played in the Super Bowl as NFC champions. Unfortunately, they were not able to win the final and lost to the Denver Broncos with 34:19.
In the 2001 Draft, the Atlanta Falcons got the very first pick and chose Michael Vick, a black quarterback who wowed the crowds with his style of play and the Falcons became the most popular sports team in the city and watching the Atlanta Falcons was more attractive than ever before. But in 2007 Vick had to confess the funding of an illegal dog-fighting ring and had to go to prison for two years. But the shock did not last long: Under new head coach Mike Smith the Falcons completed two back to back seasons with more victories than losses for the first time in 2008 and 2009. Of course, the fans of the Atlanta Falcons hope for more.